Creation-Evolution Headlines
February 2006
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“The Court has accepted the most tendentious and shopworn excuses for Darwinism with great charity and impatiently dismissed evidence-based arguments for design.  All of that is regrettable, but in the end does not impact the realities of biology, which are not amenable to adjudication.  On the day after the judge’s opinion, December 21, 2005, as before, the cell is run by amazingly complex, functional machinery that in any other context would immediately be recognized as designed.  On December 21, 2005, as before, there are no non-design explanations for the molecular machinery of life, only wishful speculations and Just-So stories.”
—Michael Behe, Response to Kitzmiller vs. Dover decision, 02/03/2006
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Lest We Forget: Website Recalls Horrors of Eugenics   02/28/2006    
The American Holocaust Museum has a website, “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.”  It discusses how Hitler’s Germany depended on currently popular scientific ideas of eugenics to try to create a master race, and in the process, eliminate the unfit – millions of them.  The website was mentioned in Science this week.
The website profiles 10 scientists who cooperated with Hitler’s regime and legitimized it with science.  Did you know Josef Mengele had two doctor’s degrees?  He sent countless victims to their deaths, and even ordered some killed just so he could harvest their organs for study.  Hitler and his scientists were not amoral, but considered themselves very moral: abiding by what they believed were laws of science, rooted in evolutionary theory.  The cold cruelty of these murderers who committed such unspeakable horrors is all the more frightening when we consider that many were scholars and intellectuals, following the dictates of their twisted moral philosophy based on bad science rooted ultimately in Darwinian ideas.  Spend some time reading and thinking about these stories.  As long as evolutionary thinking still holds the reins of power, don’t think for a moment it could never happen again.
Next headline on: Politics and Ethics
Evolution: A Theory in Splices   02/28/2006    
One of the reasons Darwinism has such staying power may be because it is so flexible.  Any speculation can be spliced in or out, as long as the belief that “evolution is a fact” is not jeopardized.  Here are some recent examples of claims made by certain scientists that everything you know about evolution is wrong (well, almost)), but evolution itself is, nevertheless, not threatened.  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
  • What Would Darwin Do?  According to Geerat Vermeij (UC Davis), if you played the evolution tape again, you’d probably wind up with life similar to what we have.  “Many traits are so advantageous under so many circumstances that you are likely to see the same things again and again,” he said.  He illustrated his belief with the speculation that barnacles “desperately want to be mollusks.”  This perspective is diametrically opposed to the position of many 20th century Darwinists, such as Stephen Jay Gould, who believed that, since evolution is unguided and without goals, the evolutionary history on Earth would never happen the same way twice.  Surprisingly, Vermeij came to his conclusion by studying 55 unique innovations in living things and determining that they were very ancient.  If they arose early, they must have been nearly inevitable, he concluded.  Ker Than gave this theory good press in LiveScience on March 14.
  • Fiddling with Origin of Life (FOOL):  Robert Hazen has a new book out, Genesis, that was reviewed favorably by a rival, Leslie Orgel, in Nature last week.  Orgel and Miller long argued for the primordial soup story.  Hazen, with Harold Morowitz, is more attracted to the “metabolism-first” story.  Orgel says about the only thing researchers agree on is that the earth is old and life evolved by natural selection.  “There aren’t many facts or opinions about the origin of life that are universally accepted,” he began.  The fact of evolution is not disputed, “But almost everything else about the origin of life remains obscure.  Little is known with certainty about the physical environment in which life evolved or about the detailed steps that led from unconstrained abiotic chemistry to the organized complexity of biochemistry.”  This is over 50 years after the Miller experiment had newspapers announcing confidently that we had figured out how life began.  Incidentally, Orgel called his review, “In the beginning,” in honor of Hazen’s title, Genesis.  Plagiarism?
  • To Lose Is to Gain:  Surprisingly, an evolutionist thinks humans evolved from apes by losing genes.  A press release from University of Michigan.  This is called the “less is more” hypothesis.  Most evolutionists would have thought that the origin of the large brain, upright posture, language faculty, and many more human characteristics would have required a lot of new genetic information.  Anti-darwinist Lee Spetner would probably jest that this story reminds him of the merchant who lost money on every sale but thought he could make it up in volume.
  • Darwin Was Sexist:  Joan Roughgarden is at it again (05/17/2004).  The transsexual biologist seems determined to consign Darwin’s theory of sexual selection to the wastebin.  She (formerly John) preached again in Science (17 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5763, pp. 965 - 969, DOI: 10.1126/science.1110105).  “Theories about sexual selection can be traced back to Darwin in 1871,” Joan and two colleagues wrote; “...Since its proposal, problems with this narrative have continued to accumulate, and it is our view that sexual selection theory needs to be replaced.”  They have a new proposal based on game theory.  Boy, she called the idea a narrative (any synonyms come to mind?)  Lest this appear a revolution against evolution, Darwin’s other narrative theory, natural selection, is safe (for now).
  • Why Sex, Anyway?  Darwinists still aren’t sure why sex evolved.  A review in Science (17 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5763, pp. 960 - 961, DOI: 10.1126/science.1124663) re-entertained the on-again, off-again idea that sex helps protect against mutations.  The impact of the story is even more profound: “Slowly, our weltanschauung in evolutionary biology is changing from a static view of a largely optimized genome to a dynamic view of organisms constantly challenged by selection and struggling with the large genetic load imposed by deleterious and new advantageous mutations segregating in the population,” Rasmus Nielsen said in a review.  The theory seems as dynamic as the genome.
  • Heresy on the Rise:  The “heretical” theory of sympatric speciation (01/15/2003) gained points in February.  Science Now summarized two recent papers, one on fish and another on palm trees, that claimed to show how species could split into two in the same population and the same environment.  This flies in the face of classical neo-Darwinism that taught that populations had to be segregated, perhaps by a geographical barrier, before speciation could occur (i.e., allopatric speciation).  The concept of sympatric speciation “was largely resisted by the great evolutionist Ernst Mayr,” said Michael Hopkin in Nature (439, 640-641 (9 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439640b).
  • About the only thing certain in evolutionary theory is that evolutionary theory itself will continue to evolve (by artificial selection, that is); today’s heresy may become tomorrow’s orthodoxy, provided Darwin gets the glory.
        Footnote: there’s a new book out about discredited scientific ideas (but Darwinism is not among them—some would add yet).  The book is Theories on the Scrap Heap by John Losee (U of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); it was reviewed by Douglas Allchin in Science (10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 781 - 782, DOI: 10.1126/science.1122678).  Allchin raises the issue that there is no one agreed-on criterion of science.  Some well-known flops were falsifiable and made predictions.  Falsification is usually a good thing, but surprisingly, Allchin turned this criterion into a protection for Darwinism:
    In 16 cases, single findings were interpreted explicitly as falsifying some claim.  A news item noted that critics of teaching evolution frequently apply such stark falsificationist views.  In far fewer (three) cases, authors deemed such judgments too simplistic.  One cautioned against rejecting a theory prematurely.  Losee agrees, echoing a decades-old consensus among philosophers of science.  He details through historic cases how one set of negative results is rarely decisive, except for quite low-level hypotheses.  Rather, researchers typically finesse the evidence by redefining terms, modifying theories, restricting their scope, or even tolerating unresolved anomalies.  Effective reasoning seems to integrate both counterevidence and evidence, and weaker theories wane.
    A question remains, who decides?
    We liked Newton’s science better: equations, explanations, predictions, precision, rigor and observability.  Did you know that most 18th and 19th century scientists deplored speculative ideas?  Men like Cuvier, Sedgwick and Verner strongly rebuked the imaginations of the storytellers of their day – Buffon, Lamarck and even Darwin himself.  It’s sad that the storytellers have usurped science and taken over the world.  We need a reformation.  Our headline is a play on the title of a classic book by Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.  Still good; read it.
    Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory
    Why You Have Snail Shells in Your Ears   02/28/2006    
    The inner ear has a part, the cochlea, that resembles a snail shell.  Why is that?  First, let’s talk about iPods and stereos.  In recent years, manufacturers have hyped “mega-bass” and other buzzwords that boast about how their devices beef up the bass frequency for that sound that rocks.  Scientists have wondered if the cochlea was coiled up just to save space, but no: there’s a reason.  It pumps up the bass.  That’s what a team of scientists found, reported Science last week.1  A mathematical analysis demonstrated that the spiral shape effectively makes the outer edge of the basilar membrane twist and jive, pumping up the bass by up to 20 decibels.  Puzzle solved: the cochlea is our megabass feature.
        Another story in Science Daily said that our ears provide an “optimal code” for sound transmission.  Scientists at Carnegie Mellon went beyond the usual Fourier transforms, and found that a highly efficient “spike code” is at work in the ear, yielding “the most efficient way to process the sounds we hear.”  The researchers are all excited about the possibilities of adapting this new code, detected in the ear, for improving digital stereos and cochlear implants.
    1Adrian Cho, “Math Clears Up an Inner-Ear Mystery: Spiral Shape Pumps Up the Bass,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, p. 1087, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5764.1087a.
    Neither of these articles mentioned evolution.  The Darwinists run scared from stories like this because they have “design” written all over them.  Not only were the researchers astonished at the design of the ear, they were excited to learn more so that they could produce intelligently-designed products to improve our lives.  Need we say more?  Yes; see next story.
    Next headline on: Human BodyAmazing Facts
    What’s Darwin Got to Do With It?   02/28/2006    
    Is evolutionary theory useful?  We saw Donald Kennedy et al. claiming last week (see 02/24/2006) that doctors need training in evolutionary thinking.  This week, Christopher Beard (U of Pittsburgh Medical Center) claimed that a study of dinosaur evolution can help doctors understand human lower back pain (see EurekAlert).  These, however, are announcements after the fact.  Medical science was doing fine before these suggestions came along.
        It seems that much of evolutionary literature deals in speculation of doubtful utility.  Consider these examples:
    • Meet Your Friend, Clay:  A press release from UC Riverside speculated that clays formed at just the right time to provide oxygen to evolving primitive life forms.
    • Hen’s Teeth:  Scientists at Max Planck Institute mutated a gene in a chicken egg and produced what they claim look like the beginnings of teeth.  The story in Science Now was cheerfully reported by EurekAlert.  If these were teeth, they were not made for biting.  Nevertheless, the press release said “The findings strongly suggest that the birds were initiating developmental programs similar to those of their reptilian ancestors.”  Interestingly, this was a story about losing teeth, not evolving new teeth, because some early birds did have teeth.
    • Elephants Never Forget, but Evolutionists Do:  An essay that can be considered typical of evolutionary speculations on phylogeny was published in Nature (439, 673 (9 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439673a) about elephants and mammoths.  It tried to decide which group was the ancestor of which.
    Many scientific reports, by contrast, mention nothing about evolution and talk about design so much you would think an ID advocate wrote them.  Some examples:
    • Wow, ID in Butterfly LEDs  A UK team was so astonished at the light-emitting diodes in butterfly wings (see 11/18/2005), that they called it “intelligent design” (see the report in IEEE Spectrum).  The E word didn’t even make the final cut.  One engineer interested in making better LEDs remarked, “Who knows how much time could have been saved if we’d seen this butterfly structure 10 years ago.”
    • Outdoing Darwin:  “Intelligent Design” was used in another press release (or rather, abused), in a story that turned the phrase to glorify evolution.  Lawrence Berkeley Research News reported, “Evolutionary paths to new therapeutic drugs, as well as a wide assortment of other enzyme products, have been created through, of all things, intelligent design.”  The irony is that they intended to make the evolutionary process sound good.  Actually, they sifted varieties of molecules toward a predetermined goal: a form of artificial selection, where the “intelligent design” was good old human ingenuity.  Though the E word was used throughout the article, this was really another application of taking a design in nature and modifying it with intelligence: in short, ID science.
    • Fish Sharpshooters:  No mention of evolution was made in another article about archer fish.  In Current Biology (16:4, 21 February 2006, Pages 378-383,, scientists found that these amazing sharpshooters (see 09/07/2004) can actually learn each other’s tricks, and perform them without practicing.
    These are mere samples of many papers that study design in nature and mention nothing about Darwin’s theory.  They seem to prosper as scientific works without relying on what Darwinists call the foundation or cornerstone of biology: evolution.  Phillip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, underscored this point in a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  He illustrated a point made by Darwinist A.S. Wilkins: “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”  Everybody is taught that it is the cornerstone of biology, but in actual practice, no one really uses it.
    I examined the great biodiscoveries of the 20th century – the double helix, the mapping of genomes, the characterization of the ribosome, research on medications and drug reactions, improvements in food production and sanitation, new surgeries.
        I even queried biologists in areas where you’d expect Darwinian theory to most benefit research, as in the emergence of antibiotic and pesticide resistance (antibiotic resistance was first recognized in the clinic, from fatal relapses among tuberculosis patients).  Darwin’s theory provided no discernible guidance.  Instead, it was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.
    He also asked them if they would have done their work differently if Darwin was wrong.  They all said no.
        Ironically, in the very same issue of Science that contained two articles defending Darwinism and attacking intelligent design (see 02/10/2006), the editors also awarded the Grand Prize for the Young Scientist essay contest.  The winning entry?  A wonderful piece by a Turkish grad student, Ahmet Yildiz (Science10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, p. 793, DOI: 10.1126/science.1125068) that not only avoids evolution, but has intelligent design written all over it – figuratively if not literally.  The subject: “How Molecular Motors Move.”
    Darwinism is the most useless, empty collection of vain speculations in the world today.  It doesn’t help medicine, it doesn’t help engineering, it doesn’t help biology or physics or chemistry or anything, yet this is the theory that liberal theologians step all over themselves to embrace and defend (see 02/11/2006).  Despite its worthlessness and the evil inherent in its core principles, its defenders shield it from criticism and race to attack alternatives with more zeal than any Grand Inquisitor.  Isn’t it time for a breath of freedom?
    Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
    The Early Man Gets the Warmed-Over Darwinism    02/27/2006  
    Governor Chris Buttars of Utah was disappointed that the state senate voting down a bill that would have toned down the dogmatism of Darwinism in the schools; he felt it was “time to rein in teachers who were teaching that man had descended from apes, and rattling the faith of students” (see AP story).  The media and journals, however, rattle on about human evolution as they have for a century, with no reins on their speculations.  Here are some recent examples (emphasis added in all quotes):
  • The Naked Prey:  At the AAAS annual meeting, evolutionary anthropologists pondered visions of our ancestors not just as hunters and spear-throwers, but as cat chow.  A picture in Science1 showed a notch in a hominid skull that perfectly fit a leopard tooth.  Groups of Australopithecus afarensis (including Lucy) may have gathered for mutual protection, and thus society was born.  “Living in such defensive groups ultimately led early hominids to cooperate and socialize more fully,” claimed Robert Sussman (Washington U in St. Louis).  Others are unconvinced; “You can’t go from the observation a species is preyed upon to anything specific about their social relationships,” said another.  A third defended Sussman: “we are also a species marked by high levels of cooperation [and] conflict resolution, ... and it is time science started paying more attention.”  Sounds like early man is getting a makeover: less brutal, more sensitive and caring.
  • Neander Meander:  Two scientists from Max Planck Institute taught a primer on Neandertal Man in Current Biology.2  Their last Q&A was about what happened to them.  “We will probably never know in detail,” they confessed, while listing the usual view that modern humans were more socially and intellectually successful (though Neandertals had similar technology and cared for their injured).  “In the end, the nature of our speculations about what happened to the Neandertals may say more about us and how we see the current world than about what really happened 30,000 years ago.”  They ended on a debate whether the modern humans committed genocide against the Neandertal brethren, or rather got on just fine with them for up to 50,000 years – “an encouraging example of long-term coexistence between two different forms of humans.”  Genocidal maniacs or multiculturalists?  Have it your way.
  • Scratch That:  Never mind the previous entry.  News@Nature claims that better radiocarbon dating puts the overlap between Neandertals and modern humans at only 5,000 years.  “Neanderthals are not expected to have lasted long in the face of such an influx” of superior technology, explains the press release (see also MSNBC).  How 5,000 years of overlap differs substantially from recorded human history was left unexplained.
  • Did Chimps Pay Their Syntax?  Klaus Zuberbühler (U of St. Andrews, UK) wrote about the origin of language in primates.  In Current Biology,3 he said, “Research on alarm calls has yielded rare glimpses into the minds of our closest relatives.  A new study suggests that primates monitor the effect alarm calls have on others.”  Noticing that most animals have alarm calls for predators, he speculated, “In primates, the ontogenetic process leading to the production of acoustically different call types is probably under strong genetic control.”  But how to get from there to real meaning?  He quoted a proverb: “The meaning of a term, it has been argued, is nothing more than its use.”  It’s the sheer variety of possible human vocalizations that led to semantics: “This concatenation ability is at the core of all languages, raw material for vocal imitation and responsible for the generation of an infinite number of novel sequences.”  Yet there are some monkeys with quite a repertoire of calls.  Finding some evidence that other monkeys responded to different calls differently, he felt this is a hint that they were beginning to understand one another.
  • To Grammar’s House We Go:  The Max Planck Society issued a press release about the origin of grammar.  The researchers decided it resides in brain evolution.  “They found that simple language structures are processed in an area that is phylogenetically older, and which apes also possess,” they said.  “Complicated structures, by contrast, activate processes in a comparatively younger area which only exists in a more highly evolved [sic] species: humans.”  They left unstated how these brain areas were determined to be phylogenetically older or younger.  Presumably, a part is younger if the human has it and the less “highly evolved” primate does not.
  • Little Knock-Kneed Lucy:  Our ancestors walked with an unsteady gate and were a bit knock-kneed, reports a press release from Arizona State on EurekAlert.  How was this determined?  By looking at how the shin bone connected to the ankle bone, they decided that robust australopithecines took awhile to get used to bipedalism.  They admitted walking upright must have been rare.  “The skeletal modifications associated with bipedalism represent a phenomenal reorganization of one’s anatomy,” said Gary Schwartz.  “It is unlikely that it could have evolved independently in multiple hominin lineages.”  There must have been “variations on a theme” as evolution was “tinkering” with the parts.  Schwartz added with a little jest, “Scientists have long been fascinated with robust australopithecines because they were so distinctive from the neck up,” he said.  “Now we have evidence [sic] that they were interesting from the knee down as well.”  Knock, knock.
  • Religion by Natural Selection:  Jesse M. Bering suggested where belief in the supernatural came from: good old Darwinian natural selection.  Writing in American Scientist, he asked, “Could a belief in a deity or an afterlife be evolutionarily advantageous?”  His team did some experiments on children to determine at what age they began to believe that spirits were sending them messages, or that deceased relatives experienced physical appetites.  It’s a question for science, the abstract states: “the rigorous study of supernatural beliefs by psychological science can be important for a complete understanding of human cognitive development.”
    1Dan Ferber, “AAAS ANNUAL MEETING: Preyed Upon, Hominids Began to Cooperate,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, p. 1095, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5764.1095b.
    2Jean-Jacques Hublin and Svante Pääbo, “Quick Guide: Neandertals,” Current Biology, Volume 16, Issue 4, 21 February 2006, Pages R113-R114.
    3Klaus Zuberbühler, “Language Evolution: The Origin of Meaning in Primates,” Current Biology, Volume 16, Issue 4, 21 February 2006, Pages R123-R125.
    Do you understand why Governor Buttars was concerned?  Search the evolutionary literature, and you will find many more examples like this.  No matter what the data are, evolutionists contort it into an evolutionary picture and then speculate wildly on things they cannot possibly know.  Never is there any opportunity in these publications for critics of the whole show to explain why it is utter foolishness.  That’s why the Darwin Party is so paranoid about letting honest criticism make its way into the public sphere.  The Darwin Society of Storytellers would not be able to handle the embarrassment.
    Next headline on:  Early ManDarwinism and Evolutionary TheoryDumb Ideas
    Epitaph: Dr. Henry M. Morris, Jr. (1918-2006)   02/25/2006    
    The man considered the “father of the modern creationist movement,” a prolific author, scientist and founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), died Saturday night at age 87 after a series of small strokes.  An announcement at Answers in Genesis said his mind was sharp till shortly before the end.
        Dr. Henry Morris (PhD, hydraulic engineering, Rice University) and Dr. John Whitcomb awakened a slumbering church in 1961 with The Genesis Flood, a book that many have claimed marked the beginning of the modern creationist movement.  The book presented convincing scientific evidence against long ages and for a global watery cataclysm.  In 1970, Morris left Virginia Tech where he was head of the department of civil engineering, to pursue his creation activities full time.  With Dr. Duane Gish, a biochemist from UC Berkeley, Morris formed the Institute for Creation Research.  The fledgling work, begun on a shoestring, soon grew into the leading creationist research institute in the world and added a museum and graduate school.  Morris and Gish debated hundreds of scientists on college campuses across America and around the world.  His 50+ books, unabashedly Christian and literally Biblical but also very astute about science and the history of evolutionary thought, have had an enormous impact on generations of readers.
        Gentle and soft-spoken in person but impregnable with a pen, Dr. Henry Morris was still writing things up to his final few days.  The breadth and depth of subjects he wrote about is remarkable.  His last monthly entry for the ICR newsletter can be read on the ICR Website as an example of his sharp mind at age 87.  The work at ICR continues under the leadership of his son John Morris, a PhD in geological engineering.  The institute has begun several new research projects including one in genetics, after the recent conclusion of its 8-year RATE project, an interdisciplinary analysis of radioactive dating by 11 scientists.
        A little over three years ago, ICR hosted a large, well-attended conference at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa called “Passing the Torch of Creation,” where Morris received a standing ovation after being introduced to speak at one of his last public appearances.  He will be missed by all who loved him and his work; indeed, even his pro-Darwinist enemies will probably pay their respects.  While denouncing his beliefs, they never could deny his personal character, integrity and influence.1  His many books, along with audio and video recordings, and not least the institution he founded, will ensure that Dr. Henry M. Morris, Jr. will remain near to the creation movement he revived.
    1For instance, Dr. Edward Larson, in the Teaching Company series “The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy” called Morris a “very sincere, honest and direct person” whose books and institute have had an “enormous influence”; in fact, Larson’s account is remarkable for its lack of any disparaging word about the man whose “naive literalism”2 has been so despised by evolutionists and liberal theologians.  This lecture series, by the way, is also remarkable for its fair treatment of the intelligent design movement, and its silence about any conclusive evidence for evolution.
    2It should be clarified what Biblical literalism means.  Dr. Morris believed that Scripture passages should be interpreted in their plain, ordinary sense when it was clear from the context that the author intended to communicate a historical narrative or factual statement.  Morris understood the Biblical “language of appearance” and was well aware of hermeneutical principles for understanding poetry and allegory; he just denied that Genesis 1-11 was such a passage.  A recent study of verbs in Genesis 1-2 by Dr. Steven Boyd, team member of ICR’s RATE project, demonstrated that the Genesis creation account does not fit Hebrew poetical style but matches Hebrew narrative verb usage at a 99%+ confidence level.
    Dr. Morris demonstrated how one man, committed to God and his word, can make a difference.  Almost every creationist leader today is indebted to his life and works.  In the 1960s there were very few books on creation.  Evolution dominated the textbooks and most churches, intimidated by science, preferred to avoid the issue.  Henry Morris’s first small paperback, The Bible and Modern Science, began to change things.  Then The Genesis Flood electrified a new generation of college-educated Christians.  Liberal churches had long since given in to Darwinism completely, and many Bible-believing churches had capitulated to long ages and uniformitarianism.  Assuming that science had proved deep time, they merely tried to accommodate it with compromises like the gap theory or progressive creation.
        Morris and Whitcomb demonstrated that it was possible to look at the fossil record and the geological strata in a new way that corroborated the Bible record of a world-wide flood.  Not only that, they showed how the scientific evidence was superior to that of the evolutionists.  A new army of creation scientists launched into further investigations that continue to the present day.  New organizations, like the Bible-Science Association and the Creation Research Society, were formed and numerous spin-off clubs and societies have kept the creation movement growing in strength and extent around the world.  Almost all of them can trace some ancestry back to ICR.  We hope to have a lengthier bio on Morris for the March Scientist of the Month.
        Henry Morris never boasted about himself but always sought to honor Jesus Christ and remain faithful to God's word.  He was aware to the last of the crucial nature of this intellectual battle.  The battle has become more heated than ever (see next story).  Having passed the torch on to a new generation, he didn’t leave the field, but continued to challenge and encourage others to the end.  Dr. Morris has been the Moses of modern creationism.  His personal endurance, patience and integrity, and the wisdom of his books, need to inspire a new generation of Joshuas and Calebs to be strong and very courageous, and to take back the land, for good science and the glory of God.
    Next headline on: Bible and Theology
    Darwinists Rattle Sabers Against I.D.   02/24/2006    
    Has there ever been a controversy among scientists more acrimonious than the current one over intelligent design?  It seems all the big science Goliaths are determined to eradicate intelligent design from the earth, yet the I.D. Davids are standing their ground.  “History is written by the victors,” wrote Henry Gee in Nature this week (see 02/23/2006 story); though stated in an unrelated context, his proverb fits here as well: “This is as true for our account of evolution as it is for purely human affairs.”  Here are some examples of the bellicose rhetoric emanating from scientific institutions:
    • Support our troops:  Nigel Williams in Current Biology this week1 said, “Evolutionary biologists in the US got a little early seasonal cheer in December with a detailed and comprehensive attack on the increasingly widespread notion of intelligent design.”  Though he repeated the caution that it is far from over, he called Judge Jones’ decision “a coruscating attack on the intelligent design case.”  Calling Darwin’s ideas of evolution “rock solid,” Williams was surprised that so many British disbelieved his views, as shown by a recent poll (01/26/2006).  Williams repeated common criticisms about ID, that it is religiously motivated, a right-wing American phenomenon, and if successful, would bring science to a halt.
    • Political scienceNature2 praised Al Gore’s new global-warming documentary, and took note of Randy Olson’s advice in Flock of Dodos that the evolutionists need to beef up their public relations (see 02/17/2006).
    • Medical emergency:  Donald Kennedy in Science,3 accompanied by some evolutionary friends, called doctors to the fray.  “Medicine needs evolution,” he said.  Stressing the positive, they said, “training in evolutionary thinking can help both biomedical researchers and clinicians ask useful questions that they might not otherwise pose.”  On the negative, evolutionary training can help biomedical researchers “understand that both the human body and its pathogens are not perfectly designed machines but evolving biological systems shaped by selection under the constraints of tradeoffs that produce specific compromises and vulnerabilities.”  Examples: lower back pain in humans, wisdom teeth, narrowness of the birth canal, etc.  “There is growing recognition that cough, fever, and diarrhea are useful responses shaped by natural selection,” he claimed.
    • Das Boot:  Constance Holden reported with an air of triumph in Science4 that Ohio “booted out” ID.  She quoted evolution supporters who called the decision to remove a “creationist-inspired” sentence allowing for criticism of evolution a “stunning victory.”  The article included a political cartoon of a Trojan Horse in the shape of a Panda, referencing the suggested alternative textbook, Of Pandas and People.  She discounted the surveys that show strong public support for ID, quoting a professor who touted, “anyone can play the survey game” because another poll found 84% of respondents had never heard of ID (although the poll noted by the Discovery Institute was not about ID, but about whether criticisms of evolutionary theory should be allowed; see 02/15/2006).  In an editorial in the Cincinnati Inquirer, Roddy Bullock regretted that Ohio had “turned back the clock” on intelligent design, thus granting Darwinism state protection as a dogma to be believed, not merely learned.
    • All the Bias That’s Fit to PrintEvolution News has had several entries this week criticizing the New York Times for continuing to misrepresent ID even when they have been repeatedly corrected by the Discovery Institute.
    • Sunday School for Anti-ID WarriorsScience Daily reported on the recent AAAS Sunday conference for educators on how to deal with creationism and intelligent design (see 02/20/2006).  “Evolution on the Front Line” also produced a strong statement on the teaching of evolution and opposition to intelligent design (see AAAS website, PDF) taking its cue from Judge John Jones’ ruling that ID is religion, not science.  It stressed that there is “no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution.”  The soldiers are all in uniform and lined up in straight ranks.
          The AAAS also posted a press release about the event, showing Animal Planet star Jeff Corwin at the podium and giving prominent place to Vatican astronomer George Coyne who called creationists “a plague in our midst.”  The release has a link to audio and powerpoint files from the meetings.
    • Not Backing Down:  The Discovery Institute, despite all this criticism, announced that its list of scientists encouraging criticisms of Darwinism has swelled to over 500 (see also World Net Daily story).  Discovery Institute has opened a new website to post the names:  Given the climate, each signatory has taken somewhat of a career risk to become associated with the statement, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.  Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

    1Nigel Williams, “Growing challenge of Darwin’s detractors,” Current Biology, Volume 16, Issue 4, 21 February 2006, Pages R107-R108, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.02.015.
    2News, “Grizzlies, dodos and Gore put science on film,” Nature 439, 902 (23 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439902a.
    3Randolph M. Nesse, Stephen C. Stearns and Donald Kennedy, “Editorial: Medicine Needs Evolution,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, p. 1071, DOI: 10.1126/science.1125956.
    4Constance Holden, “Ohio School Board Boots Out ID,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, p. 1083, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5764.1083.
    What if they held a war, and nobody came?  The elitist science institutions are increasingly out of touch with reality, let alone American culture.  A huge undercurrent of American sentiment finds Darwinism unconvincing and wants it to be open to critical examination.  They also find arguments for ID compelling.  Nevertheless, mirroring the coastal blue states that surround a vast red-state middle America, you will notice that the same journals that trash ID praise political liberals (Al Gore), and never have anything good to say about political conservatives (George W. Bush).  They love religious liberals who capitulate 100% to Darwinism (see 02/11/2006) but hate religious conservatives who think the Bible might actually have something worthwhile to say.  These scientific elitists tend to congregate in government-funded institutions rather than for-profit businesses.  They occupy the campuses where Democrats outnumber Republicans 20 to 1, where Political Correctness rules allow Marxist radicals to gain tenure and a platform to trash America with reckless abandon while conservatives (or even moderates) must guard their every word, like Larry Summers who was finally ousted from the presidency of Harvard this week (see Ben Shapiro epitaph).
        As shown many times here, this is not a battle of science vs. faith.  We all have the same scientific evidence.  It is understandable that religious conservatives would be attracted to intelligent design, because they already believe in a Designer.  But the pro-Darwinians project themselves as unbiased, religiously-neutral, scholarly lovers of truth who were led to their position merely by the preponderance of evidence (but compare the next two entries).  Why, then, are they almost uniformly political liberals and far leftists? (see Michael Fumento column).
        The same battle went on in the 19th century in Britain.  At about the time a consensus on “science” was firming up, and the word “scientist” became a new title taken up by what had been “natural philosophers,” similar political forces opposed one another.  The battle lines became drawn between younger, anti-establishment types in the British Association and the older, more conservative natural theologians in the universities.  The BAAS tended toward mechanical philosophy that viewed the universe as a machine governed by laws, as opposed to the romantic science championed by Schelling and Goethe that viewed nature as an organism of which humans were intertwined.  Ironically, the mechanists viewed man as an evolved animal, but tended to discuss science as if objective, outside observers.
        The human dynamics of the 19th century battles are instructive.  At about the same time, science became a career, and large institutions took shape.  In many respects, the ones who gained control of the institutions and journals were the liberal, radical followers of the likes of Darwin, Tyndall and Huxley.  It was not that their science was better than that of Maxwell, Faraday, Sedgwick, Agassiz, Pasteur and other “people of faith” (whatever that vapid phrase means).  Darwin’s “people of froth” managed to steer a movement that had the presumptive authority of “science” toward the acquisition of power for those who were predominantly liberal and anti-establishment.
        This complex history should not be oversimplified, but it underscores the fact that science is inescapably a human enterprise.  It is not purely an objective process of gathering facts toward unbiased conclusions.  Philosophy and politics are inextricably involved, and the more removed from the observable and testable, the more the worldview of the practitioner matters.  Nothing in science could be more worldview-laden than the origin and meaning of life.  Should the mechanists and materialists have the final word on such important subjects?  What if one party were to gain control of the centers of power and manage to ostracize the competition?  Is that not what has happened?  “History is written by the victors,” Henry Gee reminded us.  It is the duty of all fair-minded and knowledgeable observers to ensure that the Darwin Party, which usurped power in the late 19th and 20th centuries, does not succeed in their ongoing efforts to write their critics out of the history books and shut off all accountability for their disreputable shenanigans.
    Next headline on: DarwinismIntelligent DesignEducation
    Jurassic “Beaver” Raises Fur   02/24/2006    
    Another mammal has been found smack in the middle of the age of dinosaurs.  Science reported the discovery of Castorocauda lutrasimilis, an aquatic mammal about 17” long, found in China and dated according to evolutionary reckoning to 164 million years old – some 40 million years older than the previous record holder (see also 04/01/2005 and 01/12/2005 finds).  Though not a beaver (perhaps more like a platypus or echidna), it resembled beavers and otters in several ways, including having webbed feet and a flattened tail with various grades of real mammal fur.  It’s name means “beavertailed otter-like” animal.  The discoverers, Qiang Ji et al.,1 were amazed to find soft-tissue features, including webbing between toes, carbonized underfur and fur impressions.  This pushes back the origin of fur by millions of years.
        Thomas Martin put this find in context with other known mammal kin,2 and delineated the “unexpected diversity” of Jurassic and Cretaceous mammals.  Not too long ago, TV documentaries were portraying even Cretaceous-era mammals as little shrew-size wimps scurrying underfoot the ruling dinosaurs.  The aquatic adaptations of Castorocauda demonstrates that land mammals were already diverse and well-adapted to a wide variety of habitats.  This implies that any common ancestor has to be pushed farther back in the evolutionary tale.
        The story was picked up by MSNBC News, which said this fossil “overturns ideas about mammals’ lowly status in dinosaur era,” and by National Geographic, which said this “rewrites the history of mammals.”  Finding fur and soft tissues on a mammal assumed this old clearly astonished all the reporters and experts.

    1Ji et al., “A Swimming Mammaliaform from the Middle Jurassic and Ecomorphological Diversification of Early Mammals,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, pp. 1123 - 1127, DOI: 10.1126/science.1123026.
    2Thomas Martin, “Early Mammalian Evolutionary Experiments,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, pp. 1109 - 1110, DOI: 10.1126/science.1124294.
    How many anomalies like this is it going to take?  This completely-unexpected find pushes the evolutionary ancestry tale and timeline to the breaking point.  Imagine finding a good-sized, well-adapted, aquatic mammal way back in the mid-Jurassic.  You didn’t see these in Jurassic ParkLiveScience and the other Charlie-worshipping news outlets expect us to believe that this pushes back the origin of aquatic mammals 100 million years.  How can you believe that?  This critter pops out of nowhere, goes extinct, and a hundred million years later, the Beav pops up out of nowhere?  LieScience also claims this animal was not a monotreme or a beaver, but a close relative, and achieved its lifestyle adaptations by “convergent evolution”.  When are people going to get sick and tired of these cop-out excuses?
        Darwin defenders have long claimed that it would be easy to falsify evolution: just show a vertebrate in the Cambrian.  So we did.  Or find a mammal in the Cambrian.  We’re getting close.  There have been a steady stream of discoveries that have push advanced life-forms farther back in time (e.g., next story), meaning that mucho evolution had to take place in poco tiempo.  At the other end, the Cambrian explosion (02/14/2006) with its sudden emergence of all the major body plans in the blink of a geologic eye has gotten tighter.  These problems arise even assuming the geologic timetable.  Now, mix in the discovery of flexible, soft tissues in as much as half the dinosaur bones found (see 02/22/2006) and the Darwin storytelling machine is pushing past the red line.
        Adding to the crisis from another angle, consider the situation in planetary science.  At a public lecture at JPL today, the speaker described the huge puzzle of supersonic winds on Venus (driven probably by active volcanoes), and the completely unexpected discovery of water geysers on Enceladus (see 11/28/2005) – impossible to maintain for billions of years.  He had no answers.  He stressed how baffling Enceladus is in particular, because scientists can’t invoke tidal flexing or any of the other tricks used to explain Io’s volcanoes.  These are just two samples among a number of recent anomalies that have scientists scratching their heads and scrambling to explain things that, in an old solar system, simply cannot be.
        These problems each stem from trusting in a timeline that is no longer plausible.  Lyell, the lawyer, was wrong about his quasi-eternal, steady-state earth.  Like the other Charlie, he is dead, and the ideas of both of them have outlived their 15 decades of fame.  Let them rest in peace, and let’s move on.  Who in the science community will be first to state the obvious?  That fur is not 164 million years old, and neither are those blood vessels in the dinosaur bones, or those geysers on Enceladus.  They look young because they are.
    Next headline on: FossilsMammalsDating MethodsDarwinism and Evolutionary Theory
    It’s a Long (Roundabout) Way from Amphioxus   02/23/2006    
    “Every solution breeds new problems” laments a Murphyism, and Henry Gee feels the pain.  In Nature this week,1 he delved into the growing quandary about where to put the common ancestor of starfish, sea squirts and chordates, including the vertebrates and us human beings.  His challenge is to prove the idiot’s sanity:
    So, if lancelets really are close relatives of echinoderms, what are the implications for our picture of deuterostome evolution?  The short answer is that the textbook scheme is turned on its head.  Rather than the steady acquisition of progressively more chordate-like (and, by implication, human-like) features from an ancestor with nothing much to recommend it, the story becomes one of persistent loss.  The last common ancestor of extant deuterostomes would have been a free-living, bilaterally symmetrical creature with a distinct throat region perforated by gill slits, segmented body-wall musculature and possibly a reasonably sophisticated brain and central nervous system.  In a sentence, the ancestor would have looked like a cross between an amphioxus and a larger, brainier, tunicate tadpole larva.  Crazy? Possibly. But possibly not.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    Reporting on phylogenetic study by Delsuc et al. from fossils and genetics in the same issue,2 the senior editor at Nature tried to be upbeat about the latest proposal, but called it another exercise in humility.  “Time and again,” he preached, “further work has exposed our prejudices for the parochial conceits that they are.” A quote from the paper by Delsuc et al. shares this view, and demonstrates the revolutionary nature of the proposed new phylogeny:
    The monophyly of Olfactores invalidates the traditional textbook representation of chordate, and even deuterostome, evolution as a steady increase towards complexity culminating in the highly specialized brain of vertebrates.  This anthropocentric interpretation is perhaps best reflected by the terms ‘Euchordata’ (that is, ‘true chordates’) or ‘chordates with a brain’, which are used to designate the grouping of cephalochordates and vertebrates.  Tunicates should therefore no longer be considered as ‘primitive’ but rather as derived chordates with highly specialized lifestyles and developmental modes.
        Meanwhile, over in Science Now, Elizabeth Pennisi quoted some other evolutionists not quite ready to accept the new phylogenetic tree.  Calling the tunicate an “ugly sister,” Pennisi quoted experts saying the proposal will turn some heads, and the jury is still out.  She said they said, “Tunicates and larvaceans evolve rapidly and have gained and lost so many genes that it’s very hard to position them properly in an evolutionary tree.”
    1Henry Gee, “Evolution: Careful with that amphioxus,” Nature 439, 923-924 (23 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439923a.
    2Delsuc et al., “Tunicates and not cephalochordates are the closest living relatives of vertebrates,” Nature 439, 965-968 (23 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04336.
    Evolutionists could use a lot more humility.  They should quit the parochial school of Pope Charlie that is producing a class of lemmings who cling to crazy ideas.  What Gee is saying contradicts evolution.  This new story line puts the advanced muscles, nervous system and mobility of Amphioxus before organisms that were assumed more primitive (in the old “progressive” evolution picture), and describes subsequent evolution as a story of persistent loss.
        Meanwhile, Eugenie Scott and Alan Gishlick sit on a Grand Canyon beach trying to whoop up enthusiasm for their evening song service: “It’s a long way from amphioxus / It’s a long way to us. / It’s a long way from amphioxus to the meanest human cuss. / Goodbye fins and gill slits / Hello lungs and hair! / It’s a long, long way from amphioxus, / But we come from there” (10/06/2005 commentary).  It’s even longer when you’re going backwards.  Gee’s story gives them more food for cuss.
    Next headline on: FossilsGeneticsDarwinism and Evolutionary Theory
    March of the “Selfish Darwinians”?    02/23/2006  
    Penguins: are they moral models, or evolutionary examples?  Ever since last year’s surprise blockbuster documentary March of the Penguins, the well-dressed seabirds and their harsh lives have provoked empathy and commentary.  Marlene Zuk (UC Riverside) took issue in Nature1 with those who try to moralize about monogamy from taking their cues only from the movie.  She pointed to instances of apparent homosexual behavior and mate-swapping, to say nothing of the variety of sexual antics in the animal kingdom.  Launching into moral lessons of her own, Zuk demonstrated what radically different lessons one can take from observations of nature:
    Tom Turnipseed, writing for the website, suggested that the real message lies in the penguins’ “cooperating with one another and sacrificing their own lives and individual gain for the common good and survival of their own kind” – behaviour that executives at Enron, the US energy company involved in an infamous corruption scandal, should have emulated.  Other reviews also allude to this supposedly altruistic behaviour and the “inexplicable love” shown.
        Were we watching the same film?  In fact, the penguins are perfect little darwinians, selfish as can be.  No one seemed to question why the birds took such pains on their return to the breeding grounds to find their own mate, their own chick, in a crowd of thousands of look-alikes.  It seemed human, after all, like sailors returning from war eagerly seeking their families among the throng on shore.
      (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    So what is the darwinian explanation for this behavior?  Zuk anticipates one objection, then brings evolution to the rescue, ending on a moral lesson of her own:
    But if the penguins simply needed to save the species, surely any chick would do, and feeding the nearest hungry beak would save all that tramping through the snow searching for one’s special little one.  Why bother?  Evolution supplies the answer: only scrupulous discrimination of your own kin will perpetuate one’s genes.  How the penguins manage such sophisticated feats is a fascinating area of study, one that will yield much more than a consideration of whether they are good role models for monogamy.
        If we use animals as poster children for ideology, we not only end up in meaningless arguments over whose examples are more significant (cannibalistic mantids or promiscuous bonobos?), we risk losing sight of what is truly interesting and important about their behaviour.  What the executives at Enron are supposed to learn is another story.

    1Marlene Zuk, “Family values in black and white,” Nature 439, 917 (23 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439917a.
    This article provides a case study on the self-refuting nature of Darwinian explanations.  The commentary that follows is not going to defend anthropomorphism and moralizing from animals – Zuk is right that you could pick and choose between extremes and find any moral lesson you want out there in the wild.  According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, morality requires a rational mind and personhood.  A knowledgeable theologian would not make the mistake of attributing penguin behavior to rational moral choice and forethought.  Object lessons from penguin behavior might prove useful as pedagogical aids, as long as one does not really believe the birds are rationally choosing moral actions.  The intelligent design perspective would be that animals operate according to internal programs designed to preserve the species in a dynamic environment.  But how can Zuk, on the other extreme, claim that the emperor penguins are “perfect little darwinians, selfish as can be?”  Her explanation might sound reasonable to a high-school biology student, but is unworthy of scholarly readers of Nature, because a careful look reveals that it falls into the same anthropomorphic, moralizing trap.  Worse, it overlooks the most important aspects of the march of the penguins that need explaining.
        Zuk tried to pre-empt the objection that “any chick would do,” so let’s consider her answer.  Why wouldn’t any chick do?  Within a strictly Darwinian picture of the scene, the objection she sweeps away so dismissively seems valid.  Why would natural selection go to the extra cost of evolving strict pair-bonding?  That would require heritable genetic mutations leading to accurate discrimination of specific calls from one mate out of thousands, and behaviors that defer compensation till the correct mate is found.  Let’s call one pair Homer and Marge, and their little chick Maggie.  Wouldn’t it make much more sense in evolutionary terms for Marge to go direct to the fittest-looking chick in the crowd?  Suppose Marge finds Homer, only to see that little Maggie is a sickly, scrawny youngster not likely to last long in the struggle for life.  If evolutionists talk about “mate choice” and “choosy females” as part of the process of passing on one’s genes, then certainly we can ask about “chick choice.”  It seems that would make even better sense in a Darwinian world, where the individual doesn’t really matter in the long run.  The fittest chick is going to be the one most likely to carry on the genes of the population.  Why wouldn’t penguins evolve toward a behavior where all the chicks go running out to the mothers, and the fastest ones get the food?  By this time Homer’s work is done.  He may not even link up with Marge next season.  If a male is needed for another month of rearing, any of the nearly identical tuxedo-attired dudes could do the job.
        The only way Zuk could claim her answer is better is to violate a Darwinian principle and commit a logical fallacy.  She has to admit to a moral standard and commit anthropomorphism, the very errors she set out to debunk.  The moral standard, perverse though it is, is that individual selfishness is good.  Notice her words, “perfect little darwinians, selfish as can be.”  By implication, selfishness is a good thing because it contributes to survival and the passing on of one’s genes.  But that begs the question of why these are good values.  The logical fallacy is to imagine that penguins can be selfish, or exercise enough forethought and self-control against the severe rigors of their harsh environment to decide, in penguin-English, “If I can just manage to hold on against these hardships, I will be rewarded by passing on my genes.”  If penguins cannot care about monogamy, they cannot care about what happens to their genes.  If nobody cares, though, then the cheaper way for evolution to keep the penguin population booming is to reward the top contenders; line up the 90th percentile of fittest chicks with the females that have the most food, and let the rest die off, regardless of who the parents are.
        Zuk completely ignored a more serious problem.  She only addressed the individual pair-bonding behavior, not the origin of the penguins themselves (see also 11/10/2005 and 10/27/2005 entries).  How did the bones, wings, scuba gear, ears, eyes, waterproof coat, muscles and tendons, and organ systems evolve?  She assumes that we will accept the Darwinian mechanism for all the wonders of nature just because she can concoct a story about how selfish genes produced individual pair bonding.  This is so typical of evolutionists.  They seize the gnat and claim ownership of the camel.  Finding one customer willing to say he feels better after taking Darwin’s Finest Natural Selection Snake Oil, they advertise it to the world as the panacea for the universe.  Also, she herself points to the fact that sexual behaviors in the animal kingdom are extremely diverse.  If Darwin fulfilled the Newtonian Dream of finding a natural law for biology, how can it explain opposites?  Where are his equations?  Why would not Darwin’s mechanism steer all populations toward uniform behaviors, instead of producing cannibalism among mantids, promiscuity among bonobos, and monogamy among birds?  By explaining everything, it explains nothing.  Evolutionary theory does not predict the behavior observed among emperor penguins, but only tries to attach a story to it after the fact.  The Darwin Party has replaced the science lab with a storytelling pub for lazy scientists (see 12/22/2003 commentary).
        A nice film like March of the Penguins may stir our hearts, but whether or not penguins make good role models for humans is completely beside the point.  Darwinism fails to account for the origin of all living things, not just penguins.  Evolutionary explanations are speculative, anthropomorphic, and inadequate.  By moralizing herself in a somewhat haughty tone, Zuk has only reinforced the reality that humans care about right and wrong.
        As for the penguins, they are getting pretty tired of all this evolutionary speculating, too.  See Eco Inquirer for the story....
    Next headline on:  BirdsDarwinismPolitics and Ethics
    Join the Dinosaur Soft-Tissue Treasure Hunt    02/22/2006  
    “Many Dino Fossils Could Have Soft Tissue Inside,” announced National Geographic in an eye-catching title.  Based on the work of Mary Schweitzer, who announced soft tissue in a T. rex bone last year (06/03/2005), a “phenomenon, which was once thought impossible,” the article suggests that many species may have DNA and proteins remaining available for analysis.  Half of the fossils Schweitzer has examined revealed features that are “virtually indistinguishable from tissue samples from modern species.”  This runs contrary to established concepts about how fossils form and mineralize, but the evidence speaks for itself.  Schweitzer teased a reporter with two microscope images of red blood cells: “One of these cells is 65 million years old [sic], and one is about 9 months old.  Can anyone tell me which is which?”
    OK, the hunt is on.  Time to examine dinosaur bones from around the world and analyze this new source of data.  “Seek and ye shall find,” one of the subtitles states without referencing Jesus.
        These findings need to be correlated with solid research on the fossilization process.  This could be a test not only of theories about fossilization and dating methods, but of the willingness of evolutionists to follow the evidence where it leads.  Don’t count on it; Peggy Ostrom has already remarked, “we can actually look at the real molecules that existed half a million years ago.”  Dr. Epistemology responded, “Well, what do you know.”
    Next headline on:  DinosaursDating MethodsFossils
    Of Talking Trees and Plant Perfumes   02/21/2006    
    It’s not just Middle Earth where the trees talk.  The forests of Regular Earth have a language, too: a chemical language called the “invisible bouquet” by Pamela J. Hines, introducing a special series of articles on plant communication in Science.1 
    Of the thousands of different metabolites that plants can produce, many form a cloud around the plant.  These volatile compounds reflect the metabolic complexity of plants and also serve a diversity of functions.  Volatile compounds signal opportunity to insects, pathogens, and pollinators alike.  In a classic case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” plants being nibbled on by insect herbivores can produce volatile signals that call in other insects to prey on the herbivores.  For plants that flower at night, volatiles may be a better signal than floral color or shape to draw in the best insect pollinators.  Volatile signals are also read by neighboring plants and reinterpreted as instructions to adjust their own defenses.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    The “aromatic story” of plant volatiles is described in detail in three papers in the same issue of Science.  Pichersky, Noel and Dudareva characterize the complex chemistry of many of these compounds produced by plants as “nature’s diversity and ingenuity.”2  These compounds don’t just happen; they are constructed in complex stepwise fashion like technical lab work in organic chemistry, involving methylation, acylation, oxidation/reduction, and formation of aromatic rings.  Plants have specialized enzymes for these tasks.  The authors’ description of the assembly of compounds that make roses smell sweet is mind-numbingly technical.  What’s more, the compounds are produced by specialized cells, containing storage vacuoles and mechanisms for timed release into the air.  Though the authors believe these processes evolved by gene duplication and diversification, they note that “Convergent evolution is often responsible [sic] for the ability of distally related species to synthesize the same volatile.”
        Whether or not one agrees with that hypothesis, it must surely be surprising to learn that we know of 1,000 such compounds so far, with probably many times that waiting to be discovered.  Other estimates in the magazine suggest tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of primary and secondary metabolite chemicals made by plants, all with diverse biological properties and functions.  How plants manufacture, store and emit these chemicals is a neglected area of study, the authors say.  Another paper Baldwin et al.3 actually mentions “talking trees” –
    Plants may “eavesdrop” on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by herbivore-attacked neighbors to activate defenses before being attacked themselves.  Transcriptome and signal cascade analyses of VOC-exposed plants suggest that plants eavesdrop to prime direct and indirect defenses and to hone competitive abilities.  Advances in research on VOC biosynthesis and perception have facilitated the production of plants that are genetically “deaf” to particular VOCs or “mute” in elements of their volatile vocabulary.  Such plants, together with advances in VOC analytical instrumentation, will allow researchers to determine whether fluency enhances the fitness of plants in natural communities.
    The phrase “talking trees” has actually been used by scientists to explain interplant communication; whether it is talking or eavesdropping may just be a point of view.  Experiments have shown that plants rendered “deaf” to these signals are more susceptible to harm.
        The last of the series of special articles on plant volatiles is of interest to us humans.  Why do spices attract our taste buds?  It may be that our own sense of smell is keen to which plants are healthy and which are toxic.  Stephen Goff and Harry Klee4 investigated whether plant volatiles provide clues for health and nutritional value.  There is evidence that “the important flavor-related volatiles are derived from essential nutrients.”  They add, “Although a single fruit or vegetable synthesizes several hundred volatiles, only a small subset generates the ‘flavor fingerprint’ that helps animals and humans recognize appropriate foods and avoid poor or dangerous food choices.”  Maybe we all need to practice a lost skill, and start sniffing more intently in the woods or in the supermarket.
    1Pamela J. Hines, “The Invisible Bouquet,” Science 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, p. 803, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5762.803.
    2Pichersky, Noel and Dudareva, “Biosynthesis of Plant Volatiles: Nature’s Diversity and Ingenuity,” Science 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 808 - 811, DOI: 10.1126/science.1118510.
    3Baldwin et al., “Volatile Signaling in Plant-Plant Interactions: ‘Talking Trees’ in the Genomics Era,” Science 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 812 - 815, DOI: 10.1126/science.1118446.
    4Stephen A. Goff and Harry J. Klee, “Plant Volatile Compounds: Sensory Cues for Health and Nutritional Value?”, Science 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 815 - 819, DOI: 10.1126/science.1112614.
    Had you ever given much thought to this amazing phenomenon?  If you have ever studied organic chemistry, you know how complicated synthesis of particular compounds can be.  Plants do this kind of synthesis in hundreds of thousands of ways, easily and purposefully, via complex enzymes.  The enzymes, furthermore, do not just perform at random in the cell, but deliver their messaging molecules with storage and emission machinery.  This is all in addition to the sophisticated “interplant internet” processes that keep the individual plant in touch with itself (11/09/2004, 08/12/2005).
        Animal and human olfactory senses also require extremely sophisticated mechanisms for detecting, transmitting and decoding these signals (08/31/2005, 06/07/2005)   The whole picture is one of rich symbiosis involving numerous organisms working together to maintain a rich and diverse ecology.
    The “warfare of nature” metaphor may be misleading (plants being “attacked” by insects, etc.; see 07/04/2003 “Metaphors Bewitch You”).  It may be more appropriate to think of these interactions as checks and balances in a homeostatic system.  In a dynamic world (picture ice hockey players with everyone in motion), there need to be ways to accelerate some processes and put the brakes on others.  Catastrophic imbalances that lead to devastation or extinction may reflect not so much on the design of an originally perfect creation, but on the judgment of a cursed world.
    Evolutionists want us to believe that all this complexity and interconnectedness is the result of blind, unguided, processes that managed to accumulate single benefits of rare beneficial mistakes here and there.  This story should remind us of how improbable that explanation is.  As usual, the evolutionists failed to offer detailed scenarios of how the enzymes, vacuoles, emitters and sensory organs evolved.  They merely assumed that they did, somehow, even to the absurd length of invoking that old hand-waving trick, “convergent evolution.”
        Don’t let the fallacies of fallible humans ruin your day.  Plant volatiles enrich our lives and make the world beautiful and informative.  Get out and smell the roses and tomatoes.
        It was hip during the new age fad to talk to your house plants.  Whether they listened to your words or not is debatable, but they might have been eavesdropping on your own VOCs.  Your wilting ficus or rhododendron might be trying to tell you something.
    Next headline on: PlantsHealthAmazing Stories
    Alliance for Science – or for Silence?   02/20/2006    
    The American Association for the Advancement of Science had an unusual item on their agenda for their annual meeting in St. Louis: fight intelligent design.  The St. Louis Dispatch reported that while churches were preaching the gospel Sunday morning, the AAAS was preaching battle tactics.  According to the article, though, they were preaching to the converted.
    Presenters at the conference said the battle is far from over.  On Sunday morning, they announced the formation of a new organization of scientists, scientific groups and supporters – the Alliance for Science – to fight what they see as an assault on science from religious conservatives.  The new organization aims to create graduate fellowships, increase funding for research, train math and science teachers, and build tax incentives for research and development, said co-chairman Paul Forbes.
    Earlier in the conference, which began last week, a panel outlined tactics that public school teachers and scientists can take in teaching concepts such as intelligent design and creationism – and how to keep them out of the classroom.  They talked of using the media, educating voters and going to court, if needed.
      (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    Reporters David Hunn and Tom Townsend quoted one creationist and one intelligent design lawyer who thought this displayed insecurity on the part of the scientific establishment; they certainly did not appear threatened by this new initiative.  Educators at the conference described their experience with students challenging them on their presentations of evolution.  Some teachers are becoming reluctant to bring up the subject at all.
        Though the court cases in Dover, Cobb County Frazier Park worked in their favor, evolutionists realize the battle is far from over.  Some took heart that “the tide is turning” as more scientists are beginning to step forward.  Most interesting quote in the article was from Vatican astronomer George Coyne: “One of the biggest problems teachers face is evangelical Christianity based on the literal interpretation of the Scriptures,” he said, calling biblical literalism “a plague in our midst.”
    Welcome to the American Association for the Advancement of Dogmatism, and the Alliance for Silence.  The pigs are in power, and have ruled that all religions are equal, but some (like naturalism) are more equal than others.  They now want to train the attack dogs on the workhorses who built Empirical Farm and bully them into submission.  Meanwhile, they tell visitors, “Controversy?  There’s no controversy here.  This is utopia.”
        Did you notice the non-sequitur in their battle plan?  Increase funding for research, create graduate fellowships, train math and science teachers, build tax incentives for research and development – great ideas (unless the pigs are the teachers and the attack dogs guard the doors).  Do the pigs ever look in the mirror and realize they resemble Farmer Jones?
        We have a better idea for them.  Find scientific evidence that chance and necessity can turn hydrogen into people.  Then find evidence that it did.
        Wonder what Jesus would think about Coyne calling those who trust the word of God a “plague in our midst.”  We take this to mean Coyne feels about them like bugs feel about Raid.
    Next headline on: Darwinism and EvolutionIntelligent DesignEducationBible and Theology
    Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: Better Living Through Chemistry   02/18/2006    
    Joel Achenbach (Washington Post) got a page in the March 2006 National Geographic.  His short piece on chemical evolution was juxtaposed (whether intentionally or not we do not know) against a news item on archaeology announcing the discovery of a new Dead Sea Scroll – the first found in 40 years – a fragment from Leviticus 23 on priestly ordinances for feasts and solemn assemblies unto the Lord.  Achenbach’s page could hardly contrast more starkly.  It is entitled, “The Origin of Life... Through Chemistry.”  For Achenbach, the Pentateuch is clearly not a contender as a source of answers to the big questions:
    The emergence of life on Earth is on a short list of the biggest unknowns in science.  Did life begin in a small, warm pond at the edge of a primordial sea, as Charles Darwin speculated?  Or deep beneath that sea, around one of the burbling hydrothermal vents first seen in the 1970s?  And never mind the where: What was it, this initial germ of life?  Was it a cell?  A replicating molecule?   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    By implication, only naturalistic, unguided explanations need apply.  Achenbach spent the page promoting the view of Harold Morowitz, Eric Smith and Robert Hazen that life originated not with a cell, RNA or DNA, but rather via metabolism – some self-perpetuating chemical cycle that needed no cell to grow and evolve.  Even though he admits this is a very controversial idea (and fails to mention it begs the question how a cell or genetic code could have co-opted a metabolic cycle to become a living cell), it didn’t stop him from launching into opinions about education, creationism, and the long philosophical debate over free will vs. determinism:
    This is probably not what opponents of the teaching of evolution want to hear, but it seems that a kind of molecular natural selection applies even to the world of geochemistry.  Some types of molecular chains outcompeted [sic] other molecular chains for the planet’s resources, and gradually they led to [sic] the kind of molecules that life depends upon—and all this before the first living thing oozed forth [sic].  Many scientists say that life wasn’t a freak accident at all, but the likely outcome of the interaction of the molecules and minerals of the Earth.  “Life is an elaboration of something very simple,” says Smith.  “It looks easy and inevitable.
    Hazen’s new book adapts the Biblical creation title, Ge•ne•sis, but with no spirit of God hovering over the surface of the waters.  Hazen emphasizes the idea of “emergence,” i.e., that “From simple beginnings, complexity can emerge.”  An example cited is that consciousness emerges from the collective activity of individual neurons.  Then comes Achenbach’s winning entry:
    All of this is sure to be a matter of contentious debate for a long time.  But ours would not be so interesting a world if its ultimate secrets were easily discovered.  It took us four billion years to evolve to a point where we could even begin the search. 
    The cartoon illustration shows molecules combining, emerging upward, till one breaches the surface and looks like a rising sun, its beams spreading gloriously into a new sky.
        Achenbach’s entry is equaled or perhaps surpassed by a quote from James Shreeve in the article on DNA and human migration (p. 63): “What accounts for the ancient wanderlust?  Perhaps some kind of neurological mutation led to spoken language and made our ancestors fully modern, setting a small band on course to colonize the world.”
    Achenbach’s page should be ridiculed, scoffed at, deplored and castigated on scientific grounds, let alone on grounds of philosophy, theology, or history.  Why is there no rebuttal?  Why do stupid ideas get free press in NG and most other pop-sci rags, even when any educated science writer should be aware of the extreme implausibility of the whole scenario?  Any kind of metabolic cycle that consumes all available resources is not going any further, even if geochemists find one (don’t hold your breath).  A chemical cycle is not a perpetual motion machine, and natural selection cannot be invoked for a system that does not yield progeny able to mutate.  Furthermore, it is virtually impossible that a genetic molecule would ever arise with a code matching this chemical cycle, let alone incorporate it into a membrane and discover the art of complete automated self-replication, even if it “wanted” to (which is against materialist rules to even imagine).
        “Emergence” is one of those miracle words in the naturalist dictionary.  Hazen talks glowingly about emergence in his lectures, but the examples he gives are really lame.  For inorganic processes, are you impressed by wave patterns in sand?.  All his examples in the living world, whether internet commerce or neurons producing consciousness, involve intelligence, or else logically beg the question whether naturalistic processes could have produced them.  In short, the whole theory of metabolism-first origin of life is fraught with extremely serious scientific and conceptual challenges.  The little bit of chemistry lab work done in support of it is irrelevant, because it is done under highly controlled conditions by intelligent design.  Metabolism-first is a fringe opinion among evolutionists themselves.  Its popularizers are in no position to start lecturing about determinism, human consciousness and the meaning of life.  We trust that any explanation of why the quote above wins SEQOTW is superfluous for our highly perceptive and intelligent readership.
        Scientific materialism became a fad in Germany in the mid-1800s.  Ludwig Feuerbach popularized the term “you are what you eat.”  Karl Vogt, Jakob Moleschott and Ludwig Büchner formed an “unholy trinity” of scientific materialists who promoted, with religious fervor, a radically naturalistic view of a universe consisting of nothing more than molecules in motion.  Their materialism was absolute and positivistic.  It included human rationality: Vogt wrote that “thoughts stand in the same relation to the brain as gall does to the liver and urine to the kidneys.”  They built their materialistic house on the assumptions that (1) life was simple (just one more natural arrangement of matter) and (2) natural laws in a clockwork universe rendered a Creator obsolete.  They also worked to promote a new view of scientific practice – methodological naturalism – i.e., working as if scientific materialism is true.  Like today’s evolutionary evangelists, they demanded surrender of all of philosophy and the humanities.  Worth noting, each of these men hated Christianity.  By young adulthood, having become enthralled by scientific laws, each went on a crusade to replace all religion with a “scientific” view of the world.  It was time, they preached, for mankind to grow up and get real.  Science had taught us to jettison all “superstitions” about God and a spiritual realm.  The only thing that existed was matter, obeying Newtonian-style force laws.  Mind was just an artifact, an “emergent property” of matter, a secretion of the brain.  (Historians note: Karl Marx was also caught up in this materialistic euphoria.)
        The science that fueled 19th century materialism can no longer hold up.  We know much more now about the fine-tuning of the universe and the extreme complexity of life.  We have discovered that living cells are not just bags of molecules obeying force laws, but programmed factories of molecular machines with incredibly rich libraries of coded information.  Though mind is clearly influenced by the brain, scientists still struggle to reduce consciousness and rationality to mere neurons.  Natural laws expressible in equations, the Newtonian dream of the materialists, have proved elusive in biology.  The “clockwork universe” of Laplace has given way to a statistical world, with uncertainties residing in the basic units of matter.  We have learned that positivism is self-refuting.  The hope of eternal progress has turned to vanity.  The vision of an eternal, steady state universe has been replaced by one with a sudden beginning and a slow, ignominious end.
        Notice that their assumptions and anti-religious sentiments preceded their “scientific” writings and popularizations of materialism.  The same assumptions and motivations still drive today’s evolutionary-science community, even though their castle was built on an obsolete early-19th-century conception of the world.  Meanwhile, the enforcement of methodological naturalism that came to dominate scientific practice after Darwin ensures they will never escape from their bonds.
        The present crop of scientific materialists, with their evident optimism and confidence in the eventual success of origin-of-life studies, should consider the bitter end of their path.  They should ponder the fact that depression afflicted many of the early scientific materialists.1  Büchner, the symbolic leader of the scientific materialism movement, expressed his personal feelings years after the publication of his immensely popular and influential materialistic gospel, Force and Matter.  His pessimistic conclusions must necessarily follow if Ge•ne•sis rather than Genesis is the true history of the world.  Extremely depressed and nearly suicidal, Büchner wrote under a pseudonym what he felt about life around the same time he was confidently preaching materialism in his book.  He reflected, “We are like dogs on a treadmill.  The glowing irons of life prod us to restless running without goal, until we fall dead from exhaustion in the grave we have made for ourselves.”2
    Next headline on: Origin of LifeDumb Ideas
    1Historical information about 19th century scientific materialism was gathered largely from an excellent series of lectures by Dr. Frederick Gregory, History of Science 1700-1900, The Teaching Company, especially lecture 31: “Scientific Materialism at Mid-Century.”
    2Would you rather have an abundant life?  Start with different assumptions.  Not “in the beginning were the particles,” but in the beginning was the Word.
    Bloviating on I.D. – Is It Garrulous?    02/17/2006  
    TV commentator Bill O’Reilly has brought two obscure words to the attention of his viewers: ”bloviating” (discoursing at length in a pompous manner) and “garrulous” (wordy and rambling, tiresomely talkative).  A number of talking heads and writing hands have taken to bloviating about intelligent design (ID) recently.  Readers may wish to get out their blovimeters and measure the garrulity factor in the following episodes:
    • Beam Me Up, Scott:  Pro-evolution activist Eugenie Scott took a column in Cell1 to try to explain why creationism is such a mainstay in American culture.  Presenting her usual arguments that ID is not science but a polished form of religious creationism (after all, Judge Jones said so), she tried to list some historical reasons why it is so hard to stamp out; after all, “Outside of the United States, people are dumbfounded by events like these.”  Discussing social, political, and religious history of the United States, she argued that the primary reason is that giving everyone their fair share at the microphone is “the American way.”
    • Viewpoint Discrimination:  One man’s reasoned discussion is another’s propaganda.  When Robert Hazen came to U. of Iowa to preach “Why intelligent design is not science,” a reporter asked ID proponent Guillermo Gonzalez (co-author of The Privileged Planet) what he thought.  He wrote in a letter to the Iowa Tribune that he expected to hear propaganda, and his expectations were realized.  Hazen used irrelevant arguments, Gonzalez said, that can be disproved by looking at the reception to the big bang theory.  It had profound religious implications, yet scientists evaluated it and accepted it based on scientific evidence.
          Gonzalez has taken heat for his views at Iowa State.  The Iowa Hawkeye describes how his beliefs have been condemned, his qualifications questioned, and his book ridiculed by peers.  Michael Francisco on Evolution News refuted the claims of the critics, and sees this as more evidence of attempts to marginalize ID as religion so that scientists can dismiss it outright rather than discuss its merits.
    • Selective Evidence:  Jodi Rudoren reported about the Ohio ID flipflop (see 02/15/2006 story) in the Feb. 15 New York Times.  Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network filled in some blanks: “The story never mentions the personal character attacks made against the drafters of the lesson plan, nor does it mention that ID is NOT in the lesson at all,” he said.  “Also not mentioned was that the relevant science standards benchmark specifically says that ID is not mandated in Ohio.”
    • Skell Irrelevance:  Darwinism is simply beside the point, argued Phillip Skell in the Philadelphia Daily News (see Discovery Institute reprint).  The fact that hardly any scientist refers to Darwinian theory in their work shows that it is not the cornerstone of biology, as claimed by its supporters.  Skell also pointed out how Darwinism is so flexible, it is used to explain opposite things, and therefore is untestable.
    • Genetic Fallacy:  New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary hosted several intelligent-design lectures and a debate this month as part of the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum.  Baptist Press reported on a lecture by Francis J. Beckwith (Baylor U), who argued that religious motivations should not negate intelligent design.  Striking down a policy (such as a school board science framework) strictly because of the religious beliefs of some of its adherents is “logically fallacious and constitutionally suspect.”
    • Ruse Ruse and Dempski Dempsey:  At the friendly ID boxing match at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Michael Ruse took the first punch against ID, reports Baptist Press, by asking William Dembski, “If Intelligent Design is indeed a true scientific paradigm or research program, what results in science are you actually getting?”  Dembski blocked the punch by claiming that it is not the burden of ID to gather new facts, but to make sense of them.  Dembski countered by asking Ruse why Darwinism should use guided scientific experience to produce unguided explanations.  Ruse kept trying to corner Dembski to admit the God word.  Sounds like a lively interchange ensued, with other speakers like philosopher William Lane Craig joining in the fray at the end.  Baptist Press posted a second article on the debate.
    • Back in Kansas Again:  William Dembski followed his appearance in New Orleans with an appearance at University of Kansas, Baptist Press reported.  1500 people attended a Campus Crusade event, where Dembski acknowledged Darwin as a great man, but denied that his theory could account for the big changes in the history of life.  The article has links to MP3 files of the event.
    • Dismiss or Engage:  Ajit Varki (UC San Diego) doesn’t want to debate evolution any more than he wants to debate a flat earth, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune in an article on the “hot topic” of evolution.  Meanwhile, students at the IDEA club on campus were drawing equations on the whiteboard.  Ken Miller and Eugenie Scott dismiss all the creationism as just a cultural phenomenon.  Josh Norton, a senior and leader of the IDEA club, is disappointed that he can’t get the faculty to objectively interact with the club and its arguments.  They just dismiss his requests with cliches like, “There’s no intelligence in intelligent design.”
    • No on ID, No on Darwin:  “Pitt professor challenges Darwin,” writes the Pitt News about Jeffrey Schwartz and his revolutionary ideas about evolution (01/26/2006).  He denies Darwin’s claim that evolution happens gradually, opting instead for his own “Sudden Origins” theory largely because of the fossil record (see 02/14/2006) and discoveries in cell biology that show they resist change.  An evolutionist and no friend of ID, Schwarz nonetheless feels a kind of empathy experienced among foxhole mates: “Darwinism’s presence in science is so overwhelming,” Schwartz said.  “For the longest time, there was no room for alternative thinking among the scientific community.”  He says that time will tell if they will open up to alternatives.
    • DODO Heads:  Alvin Powell reviewed Randy Olson’s “Flock of Dodos” film (see 01/07/2006) for the Harvard Gazette.  Olsen handled the ID community “gently,” Powell writes, saying they are presented as “likeable” people marketing a “shaky” theory.  The film’s theme is about communication: the scientific community has failed to sell evolution through neglect, while creationists know how to present their ideas in an attractive way.
    • Catholic Counter-Reformation:  Here’s an enigma from Vatican astronomer George Coyne, found on “The intelligent design movement belittles God.  It makes God a designer, an engineer.  The God of religious faith is a god of love.  He did not design me.”  Come again?
    • Catholic Appeasement:  A Reuters story published by MSNBC tells about Hans Kung, a liberal Swiss priest who has found a way to make peace with the evolutionists.  Basically, he gives science all the authority of explanation for everything in the natural world, leaving for theology only questions of ultimate causation and meaning.  Another article on MSNBC portrays the Pope as embracing the conquests of science and trying to embrace dialogue and understanding between science and religion.

    1Eugenie Scott, “Creationism and Evolution: It's the American Way,” Cell, Volume 124, Issue 3, 10 February 2006, Pages 449-451.
    As to Hans Kung’s compromise (we don’t call him father because Jesus said not to), it’s about as practical as compromising with a grizzly bear.  If the bear needs a meal and the shivering man needs a fur coat, who gets the better deal?  If Kung was a better student of history and logic, he would understand that Darwin acid will eat him alive and dissolve away his faith into ephemeral vapor that will disperse into the molecular randomness of a purposeless universe.  How can he maintain any semblance of Catholicism and espouse such a position?  Where, in his compromise, is room for Jesus and the Bible?  Where is history and archaeology?  Give the Darwinists the natural world, and they will take everything and leave you with nothing (02/11/2006), gloating and snickering all the way to the bank.  Kung is not engaging the debate, he is capitulating.  His whole surrender is predicated on the assumption that the Darwinists have proven their case.  Why, then, is Schwarz pointing out that the fossil and genetic evidence disagrees with Darwinism?  How ironic that the scientists seem to be more attuned to weaknesses in evolutionary theory than liberal theologians who are ready to wave the white flag at the first sign of blood, even if it is only stage blood.  They are turncoats who are more quick to slander their allies as “fundamentalist Christians who ignore science” than to call the Darwin Party to task for bloviating microevolution into a theory of everything (TOE).  Of course, the Darwinist media is all too happy to publish the TOE-licking antics of these Belafontes on their front pages for propaganda value.
        Bless Michael Ruse’s heart for engaging his rivals in honest debate before an audience largely opposed to his views.  Hard to believe he would still use finch beaks and Archaeopteryx as evidence for Darwinism, though.
        As for Eugenie Scott’s garrulity metric, our blovimeter blew out the top end, so we will have to upgrade to the Humvee model.  She hasn’t thought of anything original since Huxley roamed the earth.  Like Clepsydra Geyser in Yellowstone, she has been erupting steadily for years without taking anything in, like a perpetual spouter bloviating “creationism isn’t science” superciliously as if saying it over and over will make it come true.  Randy Olson needs to give her a lesson in marketing, and on becoming a likeable person like the creationists he reluctantly admires.  In the meantime, avoid the propensity for loquaciousness; and remember, linguistic verbosity invariably negates semantic lucidity. 
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryIntelligent Design
    Alien Engineering: Is It Intelligent Design?   02/16/2006    
    The SETI Institute finished airing a 2-part series on the History Channel called Alien Engineering (it will be rebroadcast on Feb. 18).  The series, featuring SETI Institute scientists Seth Shostak and Frank Drake, asks the following questions:
    Prepare for an exercise in imagination.  Suppose that an alien spacecraft crashed in the desert and we humans recovered it.  What could we learn from its engineers?  Using data gleaned from years of UFO sightings, we recreate a typical ship using cutting—edge animation, discover why aliens choose the craft shapes they do, learn how they overcome the effects of Earth’s atmosphere, defy gravity, cancel inertia, and travel faster than the speed of light!  Our experts—reverse engineers—show us what’s “under the hood” of alien craft....
        With the help of leading physicists, astronomers, and engineers, we’ll decipher UFO technology: inertia cancellers, antigravity devices, wormhole excavators, teletransporters, antimatter reactors and laser weapons.
        And, maybe in the process, discover the secrets of the universe... through “Alien Engineering.”
      (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    If this exercise in imagination belongs on the History Channel, it is history that hasn’t been written yet.  But it does lead to an interesting follow-up question that the producers (Workaholic Productions) may not have imagined.  If an alien found human engineering on Mars (e.g., the Mars Exploration Rovers), or on Titan (the Huygens Probe), or on Eros (the NEAR spacecraft) or on the moon, would they be able to reverse-engineer these and learn about us?  Would they be able to detect products of intelligence and deduce that these objects had not evolved from the surrounding materials by chance?
    SETI devotees hate it when we use their logic against them.  Seth & Frank are poles apart from intelligent design people, but how can they escape from this trap they have set for themselves?  They are claiming that we could reverse-engineer products we have never seen, produced by minds we have never known, and are not sure even exist.  They are absolutely certain that if alien craft landed on Earth, we would recognize them as designed.  We would be able to discern much about the designers, and we sure would not assume that starstuff had assembled craft by chance that could travel faster than the speed of light or defy gravity.  The organization of the parts for function would not only convince us that they were products of intelligence (remember the I in SETI), but would astound us and arouse admiration of the designers, even if we knew nothing about them.  So why is William Paley a has-been in philosophy of science today?  Sounds like the SETI Institute should hire his modern counterparts, like Michael Behe.
    Next headline on: Intelligent DesignSETISolar SystemPhysicsBiomimeticsMedia
    Ohio School Board Votes Down Critical Analysis of Evolution    02/15/2006  
    In more apparent fallout from the Dover case, the Ohio State Board of Education (OSBE) voted 11-4 to strike language from the high school science standards that stated simply, “Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”  The same standards specifically mentioned that intelligent design would not be taught.  No textbooks were to be changed; evolution would still be taught as fact.
        Nevertheless, a motion to strike out the critical-analysis statement was introduced by one board member, Martha K. Wise, based on input from evolution lobbyists and fears of what happened in Dover; MSNBC News reported that fear of a lawsuit entered into her decision to make the motion.  With three key board members who supported the policy absent, the vote was taken before the legal opinion on the constitutionality of the language was provided.  For details on this policy reversal from a board that had previously supported it unanimously, see Evolution News.  Wise claimed the policy was introducing intelligent design into the standards and claimed, “It is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about science.” 
        Another posting on Evolution News told how biologist Dan Ely testified to the board just after the vote was taken; he was dismayed that the board had caved into outside lobbyists who were giving erroneous information.  He stressed how the concerns over teaching ID were completely unfounded.  “In this lesson we don’t have intelligent design,” he stated, “But, you say there is.”  The proposed standards said explicitly, “The intent of this benchmark does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.”
        The vote came on the heels of a new Zogby poll that showed that an overwhelming of Ohioans – over two thirds – support the critical analysis of evolution in school, and a smaller majority favor teaching evidence for intelligent design when evolution is taught.  Discovery Institute News reported the results and provided an executive summary.  This poll appeared to have no influence on the vote; the OSBE took their action without any public hearing.  One subheading in the Evolution News article summarized: “Vote Took Place Without Board’s Attorney’s Legal Opinion, Public Input and Three Key Board Members.”
        Meanwhile, in California, the Frazier Park High School “philosophy of design” class ended in late January.  The superintendent himself taught a session on journalistic ethics, and assigned the students to analyze various newspaper reports about their class.  A local paper printed their responses; almost every one found that the papers (including national news organizations) had violated the journalism code of ethics by printing false statements, reporting second-hand and biased anecdotes, failing to get accurate information from the source (such as actually visiting the class or interviewing students) and omitting essential information that left a biased impression.  Uniformly, for instance, they portrayed Mrs. Lemburg as a “pastor’s wife” instead of a teacher who had more years of experience at the school than most other teachers, and they failed to say the class was an elective in which both students and their parents had signed consent slips.
    The pattern for elitists, whether scientific or educational, is to run around the public and pump votes or court rulings based on false statements.  Nothing in the Ohio critical-analysis policy should have caused any rational person any concern.  This entire action was taken purely out of fear of a lawsuit, for which there would have been no legal or constitutional issue at stake.
        Darwinists are treating “Intelligent Design” as a politically charged buzzword, hoping it will engender instant panic without the need for further discussion about what it means or what the issues are.  The same fear tactic was used against Frazier Mountain High School, California, where the school decided to settle out of court because they didn’t have the funds to fight a lawsuit, not because they felt guilty about holding an elective “philosophy of design” class.  This fear tactic against elected officials’ ability to respond to their constituents may have a short-term chilling effect, like the tanks in Tianenmen Square, but the desire for freedom is strong.  How ironic that “free thought” now stands for those who wish liberty from the tyranny of powerful Darwin-Only Darwin-Only DODOs and their attack dogs at the ACLU.  Once proclaiming independence from an established state church, the Church of Darwin has become its own nemesis.
    Next headline on:  EducationDarwinismIntelligent Design
    Evolutionists Tackle Cambrian Explosion   02/14/2006    
    You have to give credit to anyone who tackles a big problem head-on, regardless of whether you agree with their solution.  Two recent papers take on one of evolution’s biggest challenges: the Cambrian Explosion.  Assuming the evolutionary timeline, this represents a “brief” 5 million year period back 530 million years ago when most of the major animal phyla appeared.  It was called an “explosion” of evolutionary emergence even decades ago, when scientists thought the interval was eight times longer, or 40 million years.  More refined dating estimates have only exacerbated this problem which was known even in Darwin’s time.  Somewhere between 48% and 82%, most likely around two thirds, of all animal phyla (major groupings) and subphyla appeared in this period, fully formed, and without ancestors.  At most four had possible precursors up to 40 million years earlier in the Precambrian, but these are doubtful (e.g., see 08/19/2004, 12/23/2002).
        How brief was this explosion of life?  According to Meyer, Ross, Nelson and Chien,1 if the entire evolutionary timeline were compressed into a 24-hour day, the Cambrian Explosion would represent one minute, or 0.11% of the timeline.  Even if that estimate were an order of magnitude off – ten minutes, representing 50 million years – the comparative brevity of the interval would be still be remarkable.  In that blink of a geologic eye, the world saw the emergence of molluscs, echinoderms, brachiopods, jellyfish, worms, arthropods (like trilobites) and many other complex organisms, compared to the prior three billion years or more when, except for a few multicelled organisms like flatworms and sponges, single-celled organisms ruled the world.
        To be fair, the Cambrian examples of the new phyla seem primitive by comparison to later representatives.  The first chordates (those with a notochord or simple nerve chord) looked like worms, although representatives of early jawless fish (subphylum vertebrata) have been found recently in the early Cambrian strata (01/30/2003, 08/21/2002).  Think how diverse the vertebrates became: everything from giraffes to turtles to hummingbirds and horses.  Later arthropods in the fossil record include flying insects and lobsters and spiders.  Still, to have over two-thirds of all animal body plans appear so abruptly is astonishing.
        The new Cambrian animals had specialized tissues and organs, presupposing that huge increases in biological information and specialized functions appeared almost overnight.  Evolution isn’t supposed to happen this way.  Darwin’s book presented a slow, gradual tree of life branching from ever more primitive ancestors.  Where are the transitional forms?  Punctuated equilibria theory has a similar problem – just on a more jerky scale.  Since the Origin of Species, evolutionists have admitted that the Cambrian Explosion is one of their most vexing problems (see 07/29/2004, 12/22/2005).  Intelligent design theorists and creationists have not hesitated to remind them that the Cambrian fossil record doesn’t look like evolution; it looks like creation.
        A recent paper tackling this problem was published by Eric Davidson (Caltech) and Douglas Erwin (National Museum of Natural History, DC) in Science.2  They mention the difficulty somewhat delicately: “A notable feature of the paleontological record of animal evolution is the establishment by the Early Cambrian of virtually all phylum-level body plans.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)  Their explanation revolves around gene regulatory networks (GRNs).  “Development of the animal body plan is controlled by large gene regulatory networks (GRNs), and hence evolution of body plans must depend upon change in the architecture of developmental GRNs,” they begin.  Some of these networks appear hierarchical, and the “kernels” are resistant to change.  Consequently, they argue, “Conservation of phyletic body plans may have been due to the retention since pre-Cambrian time of GRN kernels, which underlie development of major body parts.”  This, however, seems to focus on what didn’t change, not what did.  Nevertheless, they think they are on the right track, compared with earlier explanations:
    Classic evolutionary theory, based on selection of small incremental changes, has sought explanations by extrapolation from observed patterns of adaptation.  Macroevolutionary theories have largely invoked multi-level selection, among species and among clades.  But neither class of explanation provides an explanation of evolution in terms of mechanistic changes in the genetic regulatory program for development of the body plan, where it must lie.
    Photos in the article show some of the diverse body plans of Cambrian animals.  Their explanation of body plan diversification takes on a distinctive cybernetic flavor.  By picturing genetic networks as “kernels” resistant to change (because “change in them is prohibited on pain of developmental catastrophe”), with “plug-ins” that get co-opted to developmental programs, “switches” that turn on these programs and so act as “input/output (I/O) devices” within the network, and even “differentiation gene batteries,” they envision a multi-level architecture, in which changes can have anywhere from dramatic to fine-tuning effects depending on what level it occurs.
        All this computer lingo, however, still sounds more like design than evolution.  Smart people design computers and networks.  Do Davidson and Erwin succeed in getting unaided natural forces to surprise the world with the sudden appearance of new complex animals?  A key to their answer lies in assuming a “deep divergence” in genetic networks a hundred million years earlier.  (Another key must, alas, await future discoveries.)
    We predict that when sufficient comparative network data are available, there will be found conserved network kernels similar in complexity and character to those of Fig. 2 [examples of “putative GRN kernels”], which program the initial stages of development of every phylum-specific body part and perhaps of superphylum and pan-bilaterian body parts as well.  It would follow [sic] that these kernels must have been assembled during the initial diversification of the Bilateria [animals with bilateral symmetry] and have retained their internal character since.  Critically, these kernels would have formed through the same processes of evolution as affect the other components, but once formed and operating to specify particular body parts, they would have become refractory to subsequent change.  Molecular phylogeny places this evolutionary stage in the late Neoproterozoic when Bilateria begin to appear in the fossil record, between the end of the Marinoan glaciation at about 630 million years ago and the beginning of the Cambrian.  Therefore the mechanistic explanation for the surprising fact that essentially no major new phylum-level body parts have evolved since the Cambrian may lie in the internal structural and functional properties of GRN kernels: Once they were assembled, they could not be disassembled or basically rewired, only built on to.
        Between the periphery of developmental GRNs and their kernels lies the bulk of the network architecture.  Here we see skeins of special cross-regulatory circuitry, plug-ins, and I/O connections; and here is where have occurred the changes in network architecture that account for the evolutionary novelties [sic] attested in the fossil record of animals.
    Their conclusion is that there are at least three hierarchical levels of network architecture, “with extremely different developmental consequences and rates of occurrence.”  The alert reader will notice, however, that the explanation above focuses on stasis of the kernels, and elsewhere only assumes that evolution somehow came up with all the highly diverse body plans in the other parts of the network.  Meyer et al. pre-criticized this explanation by saying that the amount of genetic information required would be astronomical, and by saying the “deep time” supposition lacks any fossil evidence.  They also pointed out that the molecular comparisons used to support divergence in deep time give highly different results, depending on whose data compares which genes.
        One notable part of Davidson and Erwin’s conclusion is that it differs markedly from “current microevolutionary thinking” that assumes change occurs in a “temporally homogeneous way.”  They argue, instead, that “different levels of change that have occurred in evolution are imperfectly reflected at different levels of Linnean classification,” i.e., from species up through families up to phyla, “and we think that these inhomogeneous events have been caused by architectural alterations in different locations in the underlying GRNs.”  Architectural alterations – is that a euphemism for mutations?  They use the word alterations for all the other levels of the network, too.  Here comes their cadenza.  Amidst all the machine and network language, look for any unguided mechanisms that explain the origin of new body plans:
    To the extent that kernel formation underlies critical morphological innovations, some kernels must indirectly be responsible for major events in Neoproterozoic niche construction.  Motility, predation, digestion, and other canonical features of the Bilateria followed from the evolutionary appearance of the genetic programs [sic] for the respective body parts.  These innovations became an engine of change that irreversibly altered the Earth’s environment and, thus, the probability of success of subsequent evolutionary changes.  We believe that experimental examination of the conserved kernels of extant developmental GRNs will illuminate the widely discussed but poorly understood problem of the origination of animal body plans in the late Neoproterozoic and Cambrian and their remarkable subsequent stability.
    So, in other words, we have the framework for a new theory, and a lot of work remains to be done – stay tuned.  But would this answer be enough to silence the ID critics?  Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute doesn’t think so.  He posted an anecdote on Evolution News about how he had met Eric Davidson years ago and heard him admit that single base-pair mutations would not produce genetic networks.  He also quoted Davidson asserting that “Neo-Darwinism is dead.”  After reading this latest Davidson paper, Nelson noticed a problem for getting new information into the system: “If changing the wiring takes down the whole system, well, then, obviously the wiring can’t change – a developmental instance of what has come to be known as the Principle of Continuity.”     Another, more complete survey of the Cambrian Explosion and possible solutions has been made available in a preprint to the upcoming 2006 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science.  Visit a future entry for a look at whether this paper succeeds in countering what Darwin called “the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.”3
    1Stephen C. Meyer, Marcus Ross, Paul Nelson and Paul Chien, “The Cambrian Explosion: Biology’s Big Bang,” Darwin, Design and Public Education (ed. John Angus and Stephen C. Meyer), Michigan State Univ. Press, 2003, pp. 323-402.  This is a good semi-technical overview of the Cambrian Explosion problem and evolutionary attempts to explain it away.  The timeline analogy by paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen is mentioned on p. 326.  See also the Discovery Institute Fact Sheet (PDF) about the Cambrian Explosion.
    2Eric Davidson and Douglas Erwin, “Gene Regulatory Networks and the Evolution of Animal Body Plans,” Science, 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 796 - 800, DOI: 10.1126/science.1113832.
    3Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, ch. 10: “But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous.  Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links?  Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection.  The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the fossil record.”  Yet 140 years has not filled in these gaps, as Darwin had hoped; in fact, the situation has only become worse.  Most paleontologists now admit that the fossil record is essentially complete; most new finds fit within existing categories and do not fill in the gaps; see 10/25/2002 2nd entry and 02/14/2005 entry).
    Ha!  Another example of Darwinian hand-waving.  It’s worth the effort of learning a little scientific jargon to see how these spinmeisters work their magic.  Imagine some hypothetical “architectural alterations” coming up with the inconceivably complex functions of motility, predation, digestion and every other piece of hardware and software a Cambrian animal needed to live and reproduce.  Unbelievable faith.
        The bottom line: this paper is constructed on euphemisms for random mutations and natural selection, sprinkled with plagiarized jargon about networks, engines, I/O modules, kernels, plug-ins and other intelligent-design concepts.  Any fossil evidence?  Nope.  Any realistic genetic mechanism that could produce a trilobite with complex eyes (09/18/2003) or a starfish, or a calcified shell (06/26/2003), or an animal with a backbone and nervous system?  Nothing but a vivid imagination, verbal magic and the power of belief (e.g., 10/25/2002).  Go get 'em, ID.
    Next headline on: FossilsEvolutionary TheoryGenetics
    Undersea Lost World Found in Caribbean   02/14/2006    
    No sooner had news spread about a treasure trove of animals in the jungles of Papua (see 02/07/2006 story) than scientists announced another in Neptune’s realm.  The BBC News and MSNBC reported that “An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found by scientists.”
        The seamount lies in the Netherlands Antilles in the Saba Atoll, third-largest coral atoll in the world.  A group of international scientists including some from the Smithsonian participated in a two-week dive exploration of the area.  Two new species of Goby fish and a dozen new species of seaweed added the excitement of discovery to the 200 species of fish counted, many more than the 35 previously known for the area.  One new Sargasso seaweed has fronds bearing a resemblance to holly leaves.  The mile-high seamount reaches up to about 24 feet below sea level in places and is crowned with coral and a rich diversity of colorful organisms.
    Here we are exploring the surfaces of other planets, and much of our own remains undiscovered.  Neither of the news stories mentioned evolution, which would have been superfluous.  Discovery and description do not depend on a tale of origins.  Everyone can marvel at the color and diversity of these complex organisms in the present.
        The ocean remains one of the last frontiers, and the most vast on Earth.  Little was known in ancient times, but enough for the anonymous author of Psalm 104 to speak awe-inspired of “This great and wide sea, In which are innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great.”  Perhaps this writer had visited the Mediterranean coast or Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea, and had heard mariners’ tales.  Little did he know what was out there by experience – but his description still holds true today.
    Next headline on: Marine LifeAmazing Stories
    Life Didn’t Start on Hot Clay    02/13/2006  
    Strike off one more proposal for the origin of life.  “Darwin’s warm pond theory tested,” announced the BBC News, but it was found wanting.
        Origin of life researchers have long recognized the serious problem of concentrating organic molecules in a primordial soup such that they could interact and grow.  A popular ingredient in the mix in recent years has been clay.  Some suggested that organic molecules could adhere to the surfaces of clay minerals and thereby get close enough to join hands.  Rather than occurring in the open ocean, they suggested this process might occur in hot springs or at deep sea vents.
        David Deamer (UC Santa Cruz) has revealed a difficulty with this proposal;  “in our experiments,” he said, “the organic compounds became so strongly held to the clay particles that they could not undergo any further chemical reactions.”   That appears to bring the clay scenario to a dead end.  “The results are surprising and in some ways disappointing.  It seems that hot acidic waters containing clay do not provide the right conditions for chemicals to assemble themselves into ‘pioneer organisms.’”  Deamer is not ruling out the “warm little pond” scenario completely, but his findings dash cold water on hot springs or hydrothermal vents.
        The results, not yet published, were presented at an international meeting at the Royal Society to discuss the latest ideas on the origin of life.  About 200 were in attendance.  Organizer Ian Smith (U of Cambridge) explained the reason for the conference: “Understanding how life emerged on Earth within 1,000 million years of its formation is both a fascinating scientific problem and an essential step in predicting the presence of life elsewhere in the Universe.”  Nevertheless, the BBC stated, “While our understanding of the world is rapidly increasing, the answer to how life began on Earth remains elusive.”
    Robert Hazen (George Mason U) made a big deal of clay in his recent lecture series for The Teaching Company on the origins of life.  He described clays as almost magical surfaces for concentrating organic molecules so that they could polymerize and grow into more suitable building blocks for life.  The options are diminishing.  Shall we pull that part of the lecture out in the second edition?  How about including some discussion of intelligent design, a cause sufficient to explain the observations?
        Maybe OOL (origin-of-life) people like warm little pond stories because they sound like a spa.  OK, the doctor’s prescription: take two ID pills after a hot bath.  The patient returns.  “Have you taken the ID pills that I prescribed?” the doctor asks.  “Not yet,” the OOL fool replies; “I’m still trying to swallow the rest of the hot bath.”
        It’s a free country; just don’t expect the rest of us to swallow it, either.  ID pills work wonders.  They have all the left-handed amino acids, ribose, calcium, iron and every other essential nutrient, all in the right proportions.  What’s more, they are chewable and easy to digest.  Try one with that next Charlie-horse stomach ache you get at school from vitamin D (design) deficiency.  (Geophagy can be dangerous and is not recommended).
    Next headline on:  Origin of LifeGeology
    Liberal Pastors Rally to Defend Darwin on “Evolution Sunday”   02/11/2006    
    Imagine this scene at a local church in your community:
    Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from Origin of Species, chapter 15: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”1  Let us join in celebration, this glorious Darwin Day, in a word of prayer.  O great divine principle, let us find within ourselves the strength to oppose those who would denigrate the memory of the author of these inspired words, Charles Darwin.
    If this seems odd, consider that thousands of liberal churches might find this a great introduction to their Feb. 12 agenda.  Not only are schools and communities rising to make Darwin Day an occasion for standing up against creationism and intelligent design (see MSNBC and LiveScience), many churches are joining the celebration of what Darwin symbolizes: the triumph of human reason over revelation.  MSNBC states “more than 400 churches of many denominations – most of them in the United States – have agreed to participate in ‘Evolution Sunday’ by giving a sermon, holding classes or sponsoring discussions.”
        The number 400 may be a serious underestimate.  Michael Zimmerman, a biology professor and dean of the University of Oshkosh, put out an appeal to churches to sign a letter affirming evolution.  He got over 10,000 responses to his Clergy Letter Project, all of whom are listed on his website by name, church and city.  The letter they supported states that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally; “Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.”  The stories from Genesis contain “timeless truths” about God and man and nature, but did not actually happen.
        The second paragraph proclaims that science and religion are completely separate spheres, and that denying evolution amounts to ignorance and blasphemy (by denying the “God-given faculty of reason”).  No such burden is lodged against evolutionists, whose ideas cannot be treated as anything less than truth:
    We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist.  We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests.  To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.  We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator.  To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris..  We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.  We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    Zimmerman also included suggestions for how to celebrate Evolution Sunday, with sample sermons and a resources page adorned with a fatherly figure of Darwin.  He is also taking an offering.  His advertising campaign page is raising funds for full-page ads and op-ed pieces to promote the view that Christianity and Darwinism are compatible, and that it is a “false dichotomy” to portray them at odds.  According to the page, the Christian Alliance for Progress (CAP) has agreed to handle the donations.
        Not all Christians take these developments positively.  As could be expected, Answers in Genesis finds it appalling, and also ironic that Richard Dawkins is simultaneously airing a very anti-religious message in the UK, claiming that “faith” and science are deeply opposed.  Ken Ham is on the counterattack with a Biblical creation message for churches, reported the LA Times.  Ham calls the compromise of churches with Darwinism treason, and urges and arms church members to aggressively defend their faith against evolution.  For an I.D. response, the Discovery Institute pointed to “Evolution Sunday” as the height of hypocrisy.  “Why do Darwinists think it is not okay for people to criticize Darwin on religious grounds, but it is just fine to defend him on religious grounds?” said Bruce Chapman, president.  Others have wondered why Darwin deserves a special day when we don’t celebrate birthdays of other scientists like Newton or Galileo or Einstein.  Whatever; according to an Associated Press story, the faithful may show up at church tomorrow for a party featuring badminton, bones and birthday cake.
    1Darwin ended the Origin this way only because he wanted to forestall accusations of atheism.  It was pure spin doctoring.  Janet Browne2 explains, “When he needed to, he spoke cautiously of the Creator, aware that his book might otherwise be labelled atheistic.  But he was careful not to allow the Creator any active role in biological proceedings” (p. 60, emphasis added in all quotes).
        A clergyman of the time, Robert Kingsley, was “awed” by Darwin’s book and immediately set out to reconcile it with his religious faith, just like today’s signers of the Clergy Letter Project think they can.  Kingsley wrote, “I have gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of deity to believe that he created primal forms capable of self development . . . as to believe that he required a fresh act of intervention to supply the lacunas which He himself had made.”  Sound familiar?  Here’s what Browne says about Darwin’s feelings: “As it happened, nothing could have been further from Darwin’s intention.  Natural selection was a phenomenon that could never be governed, or set into motion, by a Creator.  Kingsley had misunderstood that the main point of Darwin’s book was to remove the Creator from nature” (p. 95).
        The next paragraph is instructive about how today’s disciples of Darwin use the clergy for their own purposes: “Nevertheless, Darwin snatched eagerly at these proferred plaudits.  Urgently, he asked if he could quote Kingsley’s letter in the forthcoming reprint of the Origin of Species.  He hoped to show that hysterical shrieks from the Athenaeum [a scientific newsletter] or from FitzRoy [captain of the Beagle] and Sedgwick [Darwin’s geology professor, a creationist] were utterly unjustified—that at least one prominent (if rebellious) Church of England parson did not condemn him outright.”  Add 10,000 more dupes to the list.
    2Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (volume 2 of an award-winning biography of Darwin), Princeton University Press, 2002.
    Let’s connect some dots.  If you go to CAP’s News page, you will notice that they take a far-leftist, liberal progressivist stance on every issue down the line: pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage, anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-Alito, the whole blue-state shootin' match.  Of course, Evolution Sunday receives prominent positive press, while their bogeymen are the “religious right” and their bosom buddies are the ACLU and Americans United Against Separation of Church and State.  We have illustrated this repeatedly.  The ones opposing creationism and intelligent design are almost all political liberals and social radicals.  This is not about a scientific theory, but represents a complete cultural, political and religious divide with huge implications.  Ironically, the liberals who talk peace and compromise are the ones most entrenched in their position and least willing to listen.  Who calls for the debates?  Who seeks open discussion of the scientific evidence?  Who really wants to open minds and have a dialogue?  Usually, the creationists!  It’s the Darwin Party that wants to dogmatize and stigmatize and indoctrinate, while shutting the door on “teaching the controversy” with threats of lawsuits.  While snatching for themselves the crown of scholarship, and donning the robes of reason, the Darwinist liberal elitists look down their snooty noses at people who actually use reason and scientific evidence against their positions.
        Consider one example: Zimmerman deplores the false dichotomy of theology vs. evolution, then commits an egregious either-or fallacy himself: to “let science be science and religion be religion, two very different, yet complementary, forms of truth.”  This is very shallow reasoning that cannot hold up to scrutiny or history.  Even pro-evolutionist Dr. Lawrence Principe (Johns Hopkins) in a new set of “Science and Religion” lectures for The Teaching Company admits this: both spheres have many things in common – science carries metaphysical and theological implications, and theology and the Bible have much to say about the natural world.  This NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria) strategy of compartmentalizing science and religion into separate spheres doesn’t work.  It is no solution at all.  (Sadly, Principe winds up endorsing theistic evolution in the end, which is no solution, either.  More on that later if time permits.)
        Francis Schaeffer has taken this further in his book Escape from Reason, demonstrating how segregating Nature and Grace ends up with Nature swallowing Grace.  Phillip Johnson, more recently, has also stressed the point the Darwinists make profound religious claims that go far beyond the flimsy evidence adduced in support of molecules-to-man evolution.  He also understands the “two-platoon strategy” of the Darwinists.  They talk peace to churches when the heat is on, sounding as if their ideas present no problem to religion.  When the coast is clear, out comes the anti-religion positivist rhetoric.  Many similar points have been made over the decades in creationist literature with ample quotes from the Darwinists themselves.  This is so obvious we need not belabor the point.  Signers of the Clergy Letter, therefore, are either liars or hopelessly misinformed.  More likely, their liberal, leftist ideology comports more comfortably with Darwin than with Moses.
        Before getting angry about what has happened to the church in America, realize that this is nothing new.  Anyone who has read the Bible from cover to cover has undoubtedly noted a recurring theme: those who fear God and trust His word are often a persecuted minority, even within the sphere of “religious” people.  In the Old Testament, “true Israel” (those committed to God’s word) was a small subset of political Israel.  In the New Testament, false teachers and heresies quickly emerged, as Paul predicted.  By the late middle ages, the “church” was burning at the stake saints who wanted to distribute the word of God to the common people.  The most adamant opponents of God and his will on earth are often not the rabid atheists or pagans: it is the corrupt religious leaders: the progressives who call themselves followers of God but take liberal-line liberties with God’s word.  There were the elders who made a golden calf in the name of Jehovah, trying to show that there was no dichotomy between the Lord and the gods of Egypt.  There was Jeroboam, guided by apostate priests, setting up two golden calves, spin-doctoring this blatant idolatry as performed in honor of Jehovah (something the true prophets repeatedly called a great sin in Israel).  There were the false prophets who opposed Jeremiah (Jer. 23) and Ezekiel (Eze. 13), the “foolish prophets” who spoke in the name of the Lord but whom He had not sent – who, instead of speaking His word, spoke out of the imagination of their own hearts and led the people astray.
        The most telling example of all is how the religious elite treated Jesus Christ himself.  Here was the Son of God standing in front of them, the Lord incarnate to whom all future generations of Christians should honor as the ultimate authority, the predicted Messiah, and look who stood in his way.  Who opposed him and accused him of getting his power from the devil, and ultimately crucified him?  The scholars – the learned class, the elitists – the scribes and Pharisees against whom He leveled the most biting accusations: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matt. 23).  These elitists, along with their rival elitists, the Sadducees, who joined to condemn Jesus, were the farthest from God while priding themselves as God’s special pets.
        The common denominator in their attitude was pride.  Rather than humbling themselves before the word of God, they elevated their own reason, tradition or status as more important than understanding and obeying God’s will as expressed in his word.  In the Pharisees’ case, though they nearly worshiped the Torah, they took liberties with the meaning and added profusely their own rules and traditions with the end result of contradicting the clear meaning of the text.  In the Sadducees’ case, their love of power and prestige led them to either ignore the word of God or take a more “progressive” interpretation guaranteed to preserve their status and political power.
        These historical reminders are not suggesting that loyalty to the word of God is anti-intellectual or anti-scientific; far from it.  They are lessons that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (acknowledged by the wisest scholar of the day, Solomon – Prov. 1).  Fear of the Lord and honor for His word are the starting points.  A godly scholar does not remain stationary at the beginning; he or she progresses into more wisdom and knowledge, yet always maintaining that position of fear of the Lord.  There have always been eminent Bible scholars in this category.  An ungodly scholar, by contrast, fears not God but the loss of man’s approval.  Starting with human reason, liberal scholarship works out a system that may not oppose God overtly, but destroys Christian teaching indirectly by accommodating it to the fashionable idolatries of the age.
        Fast-forward to 2006.  Has anything changed?  There are still those who fear the Lord and honor his word, and there are still those self-styled elitists who filter God’s word through man’s opinions.  While claiming to be worshipers of God, they always find the latest ideas more comfortable than Thus saith the Lord.  In the current case, ignoring the fact that Darwinism represents a complete world view of unguided, purposeless causes intended to rid God from the entire intellectual sphere, liberal churchmen rush to accommodate it because they have been told it is “scientific” (they just adore that word, whatever it means.)  How do they achieve reconciliation?  Not by altering Darwin’s word, but God’s.  They relegate divine action to secondary causes, when the Bible states plainly hundreds of times in no uncertain terms that God created the world and life and man by His Word – directly, not through natural laws or a long, drawn-out evolutionary process.  The God of the Bible answers prayer and is ever-presently active in His world and intensely involved in the lives of people.  Most of all, He is a communicating God.  He is there, and he is not silent.
        Darwinism today is plagued with immense scientific and philosophical problems.  It is a sinking ship, a lost cause, and a root of much evil.  Why should any rational person, let alone a Christian, support it?  Wake up, pastors: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118).  If there was ever a decisive call, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” it is now.
        Liberal clergy should not expect to be treated humanely for long by their new chosen masters.  Darwin takes no prisoners.  His disciples expect unconditional surrender of all scholarship into an evolutionary, naturalistic world view (see footnote 1, above).  When dealing with despots, history shows repeatedly that appeasement is a failed strategy.  It would be better if the signers of the Clergy Letter Project rejected any pretensions of allegiance to God and the Bible.  It would be better if they took their stand with Dawkins, Provine and all the other anti-Christian atheists who repudiate religion than to stand in their pulpits and say there is no problem between evolution and Christianity.  It would be better to repudiate Jesus Christ, who believed in a literal Adam and Eve and Flood, than to stand in a pseudo-Christian pulpit praising Darwin, who viewed the Bible as foolishness.  If you belong to a church that celebrates Darwin Sunday, get out.  God will not be mocked.  These false teachers are worshipers in name only (WINOs).  Drunk on Dar-wine, when the party is over, they will find the hangover most disagreeable.
    Next headline on: DarwinismIntelligent DesignEducationBible and Theology
    Darwinists Bemoan Creation/ID Obstinance, Strategize to Improve Darwin Image   02/10/2006    
    The journal Science devoted three articles in eight days to the intelligent design controversy.  Last week, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee used warfare metaphors in a report from Kansas:1 battle, attack, defenders juxtaposed with talk of tiptoeing gently around voters’ concerns about voting in “godless atheists” to the school board.  He spoke of “moderates” like Harry McDonald and Don Weiss trying to unseat incumbents on the board, and how they feel the need to downplay their pro-evolution stance in this region where billboards pronounce “Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups.”  None of the candidates are making their pro-evolution beliefs primary issues in their campaigns because of the wide support for intelligent design (what one candidate labeled “faith-based education”) in the state; “McDonald takes care not to come across as a passionate evolutionist,” for instance; another campaigns on “improving the quality of education in Kansas, so that our kids can compete in a global economy.”
        This week, Elizabeth Culotta in Science2 asked “Is ID on the way out?” because of the recent defeats in Dover, Pennsylvania (12/23/2005, 11/09/2005) and Frazier Park, California (01/25/2006).  The short answer is, no.  Despite some premature optimistic claims by Robert Pennock and Joel Cracraft that “ID is on the way out,” the sowers of dissent are busy in Kansas, Georgia, Michigan and elsewhere working on this year’s “crop of antievolution legislation.”  She quotes Alan Leshner, CEO of the AAAS: “These people are well-financed and ideologues in the true sense, and they are not giving this up.”
        So, how to respond?  Constance Holden reported, “Darwin’s place on campus is secure—but not supreme.”  First, she quoted evolutionist professors lamenting the fact that creationist students are not becoming convinced of evolution, despite “an expanding application of evolutionary theory throughout the sciences.”  Polls show that roughly half the population accepts creation, and many of them recent creation.  “A college degree is no guarantee that the graduate agrees with Darwin,” she said, and reported that professors like Will Provine (Cornell), James Colbert (Iowa State), and Randy Moore (U of Minnesota) among others have become exasperated that few of their creationist students have changed their minds at the end of their evolutionary biology courses.
        Why the resistance to change?, Holden asks.  More students are coming to class contesting the effect of evolution on their Biblical beliefs.  It’s not just in biology class, where professors threatening the validity of Adam and Eve and teaching human evolution are finding more students “far more vocal and in some cases disruptive.”  The earth sciences, too, are encountering more young-earth creationists.  Holden quotes geologist Joseph Meert of the University of Florida, Gainesville.  “I think the earth sciences are on the front lines of this battle,” he said.  “If you have an old earth, evolution has a chance to happen” (emphasis added in all quotes).  For this reason, the Geological Society of America sees the rise of creationism as “a serious attack on legitimate science, not just evolution” (see 10/17/2005).
        Yet the numbers keep rising despite a monopoly of pro-evolution science teaching.  Evolutionary professors feel threatened not just about biology, but all of science.  Holden gave a cameo appearance to Kurt Wise, a Harvard-educated young-earth creationist paleontologist who teaches at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee (hometown of the Scopes Trial).  Wise thinks evolutionists have an exaggerated fear of “fundamentalists like himself” —
    But Wise’s is distinctly a minority view.  Most geologists agree with Meert when he says that “it’s time to stop pussyfooting around.... Young-Earth creationism and the ID movement are challenging the foundations of not just biology but also geology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and anthropology.
    Now that Holden has gotten agreement that something must be done, what should the Darwinists do?  Redesign science classes?  Sign petitions?  Teach ID as mythology, like Paul Mirecki tried at University of Kansas? (11/29/2005).  Veteran warriors Lawrence Krauss (Case Western Reserve U) and Ken Miller (Brown U) have found that “few academics are proposing new approaches to teaching evolution in biology or geology class,” Holden says.  Here’s where a few action items – and works in progress – come to light in her report:
    • Diversify:  Ken Miller says “evolutionary concepts are dispersing in other ways, in emerging fields such as rational drug design, comparative genomics, and computational biology.”
    • Illustrate:  “With a grant from the National Science Foundation, a group is adapting a research platform called Avida to enable undergraduates to watch digital organisms called Avideans develop complex functions through replication, mutation, and natural selection.”  According to Robert Pennock, this computer program “lets students see that evolution works as advertised” and is a good way to teach about science, states another proponent of Avida.
    • Inculcate:  Holden talks at length about David Sloan Wilson’s “Evolution for Everyone” program (see 11/01/2005 story).  As she summarizes it, “His approach was to face moral and political objections to the theory head-on and have students apply evolutionary theory to a wide variety of behaviors, from drug abuse to yawning,
    • Evangelize:  “Another approach is being developed at the University of Georgia, where evolutionary geneticist Wyatt Anderson, ecologist Patty Gowaty, and others have established a Center for the Study of Evolution,” the article continues.  “The center will feature speakers from a variety of disciplines, a certificate program, and outreach to public schools.  According to Gowaty, “It’s not as evangelical [sic]” as David Sloan Wilson’s program.
    • Confront:  Alarmed that 45% of Americans and 56% of Alabamans believe God created man within the last 10,000 years, psychologist David Boles (U of Alabama) organized faculty members to hold “a lecture series called ALLELE, for Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution.” 
    • Celebrate:  Last but not least, Holden talks about the value of Darwin Day – or, make that Darwin Week:
      Another means of spreading the word are Darwin celebrations on campus that coincide with the biologist’s 12 February birthday.  The College of Charleston started a “Darwin Week” 6 years ago to combat attempted antievolution “mischief” in the state legislature, says Dillon.  The University of Alabama is having its first “Darwin Day” this year, and Provine says Cornell is considering starting one.  The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has celebrated the great man’s birthday since 1997, when Pigliucci sought to rebut an “equal time” bill being considered in the state legislature.
          “The first time we offered Darwin Day, a local TV station made fun of the whole thing by taking shots of chimps at the zoo,” recalls Pigliucci.  Ecology grad student Marc Cadotte says the media have moved on but that quite a few local high school teachers are attending the Darwin Day teachers’ workshop: “It’s an encouraging sign that our activities are making a difference.
    Holden ends on that encouraging note.  Odd, though, all this attention on Charles Darwin (see also 11/17/2005).  Evolutionists often criticize creationists for calling it “Darwinism” instead of evolution; they argue that most of the good thinking about evolutionary theory has occurred well after his time.  Oh well, Darwin Day is Sunday; have fun (see 02/09/2006 commentary).
    1Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “Strategies Evolve as Candidates Prepare for Kansas Board Races,” Science, 3 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5761, pp. 588 - 589, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5761.588.
    2Elizabeth Culotta, “Evolution: Is ID on the Way Out?”, Science, 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, p. 770, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5762.770
    3Constance Holden, “Evolution: Darwin‘s Place on Campus Is Secure—But Not Supreme,” Science, 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 769 - 771, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5762.769.
    These articles can be celebrated by creationists and proponents of intelligent design as more indicators of the imminent demise of Darwinism.  Why?  Because they said nothing about evidence for evolution, but talked only about strategies to keep Charlie as their figurehead.  Notice several things.  Despite a complete monopoly on education from kindergarten to graduate school, and far more hours of instruction than any church provides, they can’t get a large number of students to believe their theory.  Students are coming prepared with hard questions.  They are not becoming convinced.  Evolutionists keep losing at the polls.  Their only remedy to elected school boards who try to provide opportunities for criticism of evolution is to threaten lawsuits.
        This must be terribly exasperating for the Darwin Party.  Notice also that the same names keep popping up: Ken Miller, David Sloan Wilson, Will Provine, and a few other usual suspects: is the Darwin Party itself losing champions?  Their methods of fighting back are laughable.  One-sided lecture series (no opportunity for rebuttal), computer games (be sure to read Royal Truman’s critique of Avida on ISCID), and organized indoctrination programs like Wilson’s smiling “Evolution for Everyone” by The New Teacher (aka Facilitator, see 12/21/2005 commentary), and most ridiculous of all, the carnival-atmosphere Darwin Day parties with Charlie in his New Clothes.  Incredible.  Have you ever considered the possibility, Darwinists, that all these opponents might find your best arguments unconvincing?  Why not just calmly join the debate and let’s all talk about the evidence?  You’ve had plenty of time and opportunity to give your side, so listen for a change.  These critics can’t all be the dunderheads and religious fanatics you portray them as.  In fact, since everyone is someone else’s weirdo, you look like fanatics to them.  Might as well cool your jets now before you become the laughingstock of history.  Apparently natural selection is weeding out Darwinism.  Survival of the fittest, you know.
    Next headline on: DarwinismIntelligent DesignEducation
    SETI Tries to Stretch the Habitable Zone   02/09/2006    
    Can life exist outside the circumstellar habitable zone, that ring of life around a star where the temperature is comfy?  “For more than 150 years,” Ker Than wrote for LiveScience, “...this zone has been defined as a narrow disk around a star where temperatures are moderate enough that water on the surface of a planet can exist in a liquid form.”  His article surveyed newer, more optimistic ideas that extend the zone of life into dark, distant regions beyond.
        The reasoning is based on three findings:
    1. Extreme life: Extremophiles can live on earth in places long thought inhospitable.
    2. Warm moons: Enceladus and Europa provide examples of locations outside the zone that may be warm enough for water.
    3. More of less: A red dwarf star’s habitable zone may be small, but there are so many of them (85% of stars), they add up.
    Ker Than acknowledged that the zones around red dwarfs would be so close-in, any planet would become tidally locked – hot on the lit side, freezing on the dark side.  But he claimed that new models “predict that if an orbiting planet had a thick enough atmosphere, heat could be redistributed from the lit side of the planet to the side that was dark.”
        Some of these ideas came from a conference last fall sponsored by the SETI Institute, where about 30 scientists discussed whether planets orbiting red dwarf stars could be habitable. 
    The Maybe Babies squeal with delight when they get their water bottle.  Water is nice, water is wet, water is necessary.  Water is not sufficient.  Like Jay Richards explained in The Privileged Planet, there is more to getting a habitable planet than “just add water.”  See the film for a long list of requirements that will dampen false hopes for life without design.
    Next headline on: StarsSolar SystemOrigin of LifeSETI
    Schools Discipline Rowdy ID Proponents    02/09/2006  
    It’s been awhile since we checked into American science classrooms and school board meetings.  What’s going on with the movement for “teaching the controversy” about Darwinism?
    • Midwest: Unexplained Panic Attacks:  Casey Luskin of Discovery Institute has documented the spread of “False Fear Syndrome” from Kansas to South Carolina and Ohio to Wisconsin.  Late word has it that even Michigan has been struck.  “The primary symptom” of FFS, Luskin explains, “is the spreading of false fears about teaching intelligent design in states that are merely encouraging the critical analysis of evolution.”
    • Ohio: Burn Those Ticks:  Robert Crowther at Evolution News discovered a quote by Jeffrey McKee that calls for treating ID proponents like parasitic ticks on a dog.  The treatment is to twist them out or burn them off, he said.  Agape Press said that ID proponents have warned that Darwinists are launching an “all-out attack” against the State’s voluntary model lesson plan, “Critical Analysis of Evolution.”  Their strategy against the Board, aided by the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is to threaten a lawsuit.
    • South Carolina: Skellful LetterDiscovery Institute News printed a letter from NAS member Dr. Phillip Skell encouraging the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee to provide genuine scientific criticisms of evolution.  Discovery Institute later posted an editorial on this letter.  Another article talked about SC’s “historic opportunity” to adopt standards calling for critical analysis of evolution.
    • Texas TextAgape Press reported that the Texas State Board of Education is trying to overturn a “vague 1995 law” that deprived them of the ability to review textbook content.  Though the article focuses on imbalances in history textbooks, the Board also wants the power to review content on topics such as sex education and evolution.
    • Beltway: Fear Factor:  Allan H. Ryskind in Human Events talked about those two little words that scare the wits out of elitists: “intelligent design.”  He criticized conservative columnists George Will and Charles Krauthammer for falling into the fear and terror hysteria of the anti-ID crowd.
    • Ohio: Caution Sign:  After what happened in Dover, PA and Frazier Park, CA, the Columbia Dispatch reported that Governor Bob Taft wants to be sure any changes to the science standards in Ohio don’t invite a lawsuit.  The Toledo Blade reported that Taft’s remarks are encouraging foes of ID.
    • Wisconsin: Stop the Fire Before It Starts:  The Madison Capitol Times reported on efforts to pass a law in Wisconsin that would ban creationism or ID as science.  “Under the bill, only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science,” the article states.  That’s exactly the problem with Darwinism, its critics allege.  Paul Nelson had fun with this Berceau/Black Bill on ID the Future by turning it against Darwinist books that would violate the law.
    • California: Puke Feast:  Tristan Abbey, a sophomore majoring in history at Stanford, wrote a satirical article in the Stanford Daily poking fun at Darwin Day, Feb. 12, saying that the scientific establishment treats Darwin like a secular saint and celebrates the “Feast of Darwin ad nauseum.”
    • Kentucky Freed Thinkin’:  Paul Nelson is speaking today at Eastern Kentucky University on “Challenges to Darwin’s Tree of Life.”
    • Sacramento Zoo: Which Side of the Cage Are We On?  Apparently the Sacramento Zoo has had so many questions from visitors, they are planning a lecture series by evolutionists trying to explain “the truth about intelligent design.”  See story on ID the Future.
    • Pennsylvania: Jones-Behe Rematch:  Dr. Michael Behe, who testified at the Dover trial, wasn’t about to let Judge Jones’ 12/20/2005 opinion be the last word on the subject.  Behe wrote a rebuttal that has been posted by Discovery Institute.  The Lehigh biochemist and coiner of the phrase irreducible complexity refuted 20 statements from the court opinion, then explained that nature is not obligated to obey human judges (see excerpt, top right of this page).
    Few issues have aroused school boards, editorial writers and scientific societies more than the question of whether evolution deserves legal protection from critical scrutiny, or whether alternative scientific explanations for life and the universe deserve to be considered.
    Since Darwin Day is coming up this Sunday, here are a dozen more fun activities that teachers can assign to promote homage to King Charles (see also 02/13/2004 list of Darwin Day activities).
    1. Try to climb the fitness peak on an undulating landscape.
    2. Play “telephone” and try to disprove the law of conservation of information.
    3. Hold a Darwin look-alike contest (guys, start now for 2007).
    4. Play “animal, vegetable or mineral?” (the answer is, “yes, all three”).
    5. Play Pin the Feather on the Dinosaur.  The guys should wear a colorful nose crest and see if the chicks like it (see LiveScience).
    6. Have a Malthus Food Fight.  Be sure to serve it on Emma Wedgewood china.
    7. Hold a dart contest on a red-state map, with Kansas as the bulls-eye.
    8. Stage a Liar’s Contest (see 02/03/2006, 11/23/2004, 11/19/2004); the winner gets a Whopper.
    9. Hit the Hopeful Monster piñata (a reptile figure filled with saltationalized bird eggs)
    10. Play Prisoner’s Dilemma and reward the rebels who escape Virtue Island (see 12/21/2005).
    11. Practice meditation: chant “we hate ID” until a state of euphoria is reached.
    12. Cartoon Contest: see who can create the funniest cartoon of Mohammed evolving from an ape. 
    For that last activity, be sure to provide your GPS coordinates so the class can experience social evolution in action.
    Next headline on:  DarwinismIntelligent DesignEducation
    Article: David Berlinski on the Origin of Life    02/09/2006  
    David Berlinski has written a survey of the origin of life field in the Feb. 2006 issue of Commentary magazine.  He critiques whether origin-of-life research qualifies as an entry into “the model for what science should be.”
    This is a good article to gain background on a topic often discussed here at CEH.  You can also learn some basic organic chemistry and biochemistry, including how DNA transcription and translation work (but, alas, without illustrations; try NHC Image Library).  Berlinski is well informed of the many problems in the field.  He writes somewhat charitably about the principal characters, but with a ready wit that is entertaining as well as enlightening.
    Next headline on:  Origin of Life
    Imaginary Feathers Found on Dinosaur    02/08/2006  
    The science news outlets are all talking about a new dinosaur with feathers, but where are the feathers?  Bjorn Carey at LiveScience said that Guanlong wucaii were “likely covered in feathers” and MSNBC said it was “likely feathered as a chicken.”  John Roach on National Geographic News even went so far as to say, “Scientists say the 160-million-year-old animal, which had simple feathers and an elaborate head crest, is the oldest known tyrannosaur” (emphasis added in all quotes).
        We went to the source looking for the feathers.  The original paper by Xu et al. in Nature1 says nothing about feathers.  Neither does the news story about it by Thomas R. Holtz in the same issue of Nature.2  Holtz does mention “feathered dinosaurs” from China, lists “feathered maniraptorans” in passing, and refers to an earlier discovery, Dilong paradoxus, that had some kind of coating that he calls “simple fuzzy ‘protofeathers’” in quote marks.  Still no conclusive feathers for Guanlong.  The plot thickens in The Case of the Missing Feathers.
        The first solution to this mystery is to go back to an Oct. 6, 2004 story in National Geographic about D. paradoxus.  This mentions a “at least a partial coat of hairlike feathers” on this small tyrannosaurid, but the description of the feathers is not what most of us picture when we think of a bird feather.  These are called “featherlike structures” that apparently were for warmth or insulation, not flight.3  Since Sinosauropteryx had these “featherlike structures”, the discoverer assumed that this new fossil, along with birds, were “all expressions of the same evolutionary change.”  Holtz said, “then we have to infer that tyrannosaurids also had some expression of the same trait [feathers].”  Yet even these structures on D. paradoxus seem questionable.  The article goes on: “The description of Dilong paradoxus is based on the fossils of four specimens, including a fragmented one with evidence of protofeathers—precursors to the feathers found on modern birds.”  Then the article speculates on whether T. rex youngsters sported the downy coats, without mentioning any fossil evidence for such a claim.
        Back to Guanlong wucaii.  Now we have the context for the claims about feathers in the science news articles, despite the absence of the word in the scientific paper.  The end of the MSNBC article quotes Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History, one of the co-discoverers of both fossils, who made a big point about the “featherlike structures” on the earlier find.  After referring back to Dilong paradoxus, he explains about the new fossil: “Because they’re so closely related [sic], there’s no reason at all to think it didn’t have feathers.”  (His museum is the same one with an exhibit that boldly announces to the public, “Birds Are Dinosaurs.”)
    1Xu et al., “A basal tyrannosauroid dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China,” Nature 439, 715-718 (9 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04511.
    2Thomas R. Holtz Jr., “Palaeontology: A Jurassic tyrant is crowned,” Nature 439, 665-666 (9 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439665a.
    3See Jonathan Sarfati’s analysis on AIG #1 and AIG #2.  The fossil impressions could be from flayed collagen fibers, not feathers.
    This is very strange.  Only one specimen of the earlier fossil, a fragmented specimen, had some kind of hairy skin filaments, that were not feathers, but “protofeathers” or “featherlike structures.”  Then the new fossil has none at all.  One team member leaps from fragmentary evidence to pure imagination in a single bound, assuming evolution relates these two dinosaurs to birds according to a common evolutionary innovation.  From there, the news media print color drawings of Gualong coated in colorful plumage, with the word FEATHERS in bold type in the headlines.  What is going on here?  Why are they doing this to us?
        Horsefeathers.  They should know better.  We are onto their tricks.  They are mixing and matching fragments of flimsy evidence to fit a preconceived speculation and market it as fact.  For earlier and similar claims, see 05/06/2004 on the questionable museum exhibit, 06/18/2001 on a New Mexico tale, and 08/21/2001 and 10/30/2002 on problems with feather evolution.  Mark Robertson on AIG called for more skepticism over the weak claims, and AIG has many other articles on dinosaurs and birds.
    Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsDumb Ideas
    Treasure Trove of Rare Species Found in Papua New Guinea    02/07/2006  
    There are still untouched areas on our planet.  Scientists announced the discovery of a “lost world” of new species of birds and mammals in a remote section of Papua New Guinea with no sign of trails or roads.  The news media are all abuzz with the exciting announcement: see MSNBC, National Geographic, BBC News, EurekAlert and LiveScience.  Rare mammals found include an egg-laying echidna and a golden-mantled tree kangaroo.  Exotic rhododendrons, palms, insects, and frogs round out the dozens of new species found so far.  The team was dropped into the remote habitat by helicopter and has only scratched the surface of the diversity of living creatures that call this area home.  Not even the native people had seen it.
    Isn’t it great to know there are still things to discover in the wild?  Maybe you would like to visit the area with Google Earth.  This is surely one of the most dramatic findings in recent years and should provide biologists with much to study.  Notice that these creatures all exist in the present.  Tales about their supposed evolution will undoubtedly come later when the Darwin Party storytelling brigade sets up base camp.  Despite reporters’ hyperbole, this wasn’t Eden, and this “lost world” was never lost.  People are sometimes, but these animals knew exactly where they were.  Do you?
    Next headline on:  BirdsMammalsTerrestrial ZoologyAmazing Stories.
    More on “Literary Darwinism”    02/07/2006  
    Harold Fromm in Science1 reviewed Gottschall’s new book on literary Darwinism (see 01/27/2006 entry).  Like Gottschall, he argued that an evolution-informed approach to literary criticism is superior because it provides quantifiable certitude:
    For years, scholars in the literary humanities have struggled to achieve at least a semblance of the certitude possible in the sciences, although none of the major schools of analysis--whether Freudian, mythic, Marxian, deconstructive, or socially constructive--could make a claim to the sort of falsifiability that quickly winnows scientific theories [sic].  But a running theme throughout The Literary Animal is the need for quantitative methods that could provide solid foundations for philosophical and aesthetic claims.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    As an example, Fromm pointed to Gottschall’s analysis of fairy tales from around the world that showed a similarity in gender roles.
    1Harold Fromm, “Reading with Selection in Mind,” Science, 3 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5761, pp. 612 - 613, DOI: 10.1126/science.1123990.
    This is more proof that Darwinism aspires to be a comprehensive world view, escaping the confines of the biology class and waging war on every other academic field in the university.  Fromm and Gottschall’s claim that literary darwinism brings certitude and falsifiability to literary criticism is phony.  In the first place, such quantitative methods are invariably subjective.  Trying to quantify fairy tales is a fairy tale in itself.  More importantly, they have knocked down a straw man by comparing literary darwinism to a bunch of losers--Freud, Marx et al.  Every one of these approaches similarly assumes philosophical naturalism!  This is the best-in-field fallacy at work.  It takes a spirit to breathe life into the humanities, and the Father of spirits is the personal God who made us.  As literary giant C. S. Lewis indicated, describing human rationality and aesthetics in natural terms leads to the Abolition of Man – including Darwin and the molecules bouncing around in his brain.
    Next headline on:  DarwinismPolitics and EthicsDumb Ideas
    Keeping Saturn’s Moons Old   02/06/2006    
    The Saturn system has a problem: young moons.  The current consensus on the age of the solar system (4.5 billion years) cannot handle such young objects.  Richard A. Kerr in Science last month described the vexing problem:1
    Why is there geology on Saturn’s icy satellites?  Where did these smallish moons get the energy to refresh their impact-battered surfaces with smoothed plains, ridges, and fissures?  These questions have nagged at scientists since the Voyager flybys in the early 1980s, and the Cassini spacecraft’s recent discovery that Saturn’s Enceladus is spouting like an icy geyser has only compounded the problem.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    The power to run those geysers is 8 gigawatts.  Cassini just released another distant image of Enceladus showing a distinct boundary between two terrains (see Cassini website), and captioned it “Youthful Enceladus.”  (For background information, see the 11/28/2005 entry about Enceladus eruptions, and for entries about its youthful surface, see 08/30/2005, 07/14/2005 and 03/04/2005.  See 01/07/2005 about Iapetus).
        Kerr described attempts by scientists to keep the little moons warm enough to support active geology.  These were discussed at the American Geophysical Union meetings in December, and also at the Cassini team’s Project Science Group meetings at JPL in January.  In short, “Perhaps the moons formed early and grabbed just enough heat-generating radioactivity from the nascent solar system” – that is, provided the models are tweaked in certain ways.
        One of the secret potions in their new models is aluminum-26, a radioactive element that decays rapidly and produces heat.  If enough is added in the model for Enceladus, it melts the core, produces a liquid ocean and warms the moon – for awhile.  Add some tidal heating, get the core to melt toward the south, and voila--active geysers billions of years later.
        For Iapetus, with its bulging equator and thin ridge of 12-km-high mountains, the scientists added a rapid spindown due to tides to its recipe of aluminum-26.  If Iapetus was spinning each 17 hours but was slowed by Saturn to 79 days as at present, and if it had enough Al-26 to stay flexible, it might have raised the equatorial bulge and ridge.  But it couldn’t have been hot for long or those features would have relaxed into a spherical shape.
        These efforts attempt to explain how apparently youthful features could persist for billions of years, but not everyone is ready to believe the models.  Kerr quotes Francis Nimmo of UC Santa Cruz who suggested there is perhaps too much investigator interference: “At each stage [of the calculations], there are several knobs you can twiddle,” he said, “There are so many free parameters it’s hard to make a strong statement.”  The modelers are continuing to twiddle the knobs till something resembling the real Enceladus and Iapetus emerge.
    1Richard A. Kerr, “Planetary Science: How Saturn’s Icy Moons Get a (Geologic) Life,” Science, 6 January 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5757, p. 29, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5757.29.
    If this model is correct, how did Enceladus’ neighboring twin Mimas avoid a similar fate?  Why did Iapetus and Enceladus steal all the Al-26 and leave none for Rhea and Dione?  If this were unique to Saturn, it might be a quirk, but the whole solar system is filled with anomalies that do not fit into cozy models.  Every solution breeds new problems.
        Let’s use this story for a lesson about how science is done.  Practicing scientists assume that natural explanations (those that invoke only secondary causes) are better than those that invoke primary causes (such as creation).  To deny this is to be a heretic these days.  Even if one believes in God or some other philosophical design principle at the beginning of things, one cannot be a scientist without limiting one’s explanatory resources to secondary causes.  These are the rules, people like Eugenie Scott say, and many scientists and theologians assume this without thinking about it any deeper than retorting that invoking miracles is taboo in science (the either-or fallacy).
        This principle is known as methodological naturalism.  One is free to believe in God, but forbidden from invoking Him (or Her, or It) in scientific explanations.  What one does on a Sabbath or Sunday is a personal matter, but in the science lab, just act as if the God you believe in is limited to working through secondary causes.  At the risk of sounding completely nuts to this scientific culture, let us ask a few questions no one else seems to be asking.  Is this not Deism – a religion?  Practically speaking, what is there left for a God to do?  This type of methodology puts a Designer out of business and makes his existence irrelevant.  This is not science; it is religion or philosophy masquerading as science.
        Now, we are not going to suggest that natural causes have not been active on Enceladus or Iapetus for unknown amounts of time, and we are not wishing to insert some miracles to make Enceladus erupt or Iapetus magically form mountains at its equator.  We are not suggesting that the intervention of God is required continually or that He cannot work through natural law if He chooses to do so, which may be the overwhelming majority of the time.  Nor are we arguing that models are not useful in many contexts.  This discussion is not really about God at all, but about the truth claims of methodological naturalism in dealing with the unobservable past.  Even if one finds the right settings of the knobs that produce a resemblance to these bodies, how would one know the model is true?  By tweaking parameters in a model, which is not reality but a simplification of it, the modeler has only applied his or her intelligent design to achieve a correspondence between an imaginary prehistory and the actual history of the world.  Is the correspondence real or contrived?  If it feels satisfying to discover a correspondence, how is this feeling validated?  When a whole class of causes (specifically, intelligent causes) has been ruled out from the get-go, then what remains must be forced to fit even when it does not fit very well.
        Furthermore, numerous assumptions in the models are never addressed.  One is the age assumption.  A straightforward interpretation from unbiased observation is that these moons cannot be very old.  Yet the entire exercise is focused on preserving a fixed parameter – 4.5 billion years.  Why is this parameter never questioned?  Other astronomers are now claiming that planets can – and indeed must – form quickly, or else they risk being swept up into their parent stars (05/07/2001, 05/30/2002)  Some have even suggested gas giants could form in just a few hundreds or thousands of years (11/20/2002, 12/02/2002).  What is so sacred about this number 4.5 billion years that everything under the sun must be forced into it, no matter how improbable?  Could it be simply that Darwin needs the time?  And if these moons and the entire solar system actually were created by primary causation, how would they know?  Their very methodology precludes such a fact from being discovered, if that indeed is what happened.
        A commitment to unbounded methodological naturalism is a commitment to secondary causation into the past ad infinitum.  As such, it is indistinguishable from philosophical naturalism.  One cannot defend such a position scientifically, because it is an a priori assumption.  It sets arbitrary bounds on scientific explanations that may be very useful for observable, repeatable phenomena, but not necessarily for historical phenomena.  In operational science, a persistent search for secondary causation has been productive.  To assume it is, and must be, in every case, including origins, is not a scientific question, but a question of philosophy about science.
        When methodological naturalism produces the kind of refined storytelling as seen here, it seems more a quest to preserve one’s philosophical preferences than to know what actually happened.  It is not qualitatively different from choosing a philosophy or religion or hobby because it feels good.  In this game, a personal Creator actually involved in the creation and free to act in direct ways has been ruled out of bounds by dogma.  The creation myth is already decided even before the observations are allowed to speak.  Playing by these rules is bound to produce implausible scenarios in which multiple tweaks must be added in the right sequence to keep the story going.  Nature, however, often refuses to submit to our presuppositions.  Perhaps a little humility is in order.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsGeologyPhysics
    Science Seeks Integrity After Scandals    02/05/2006  
    The Hwang scandal (01/09/2006) has prompted a good deal of international soul searching about scientific ethics.  (Now, it appears that Hwang also corrupted officials with monetary gifts; see New Scientist).  Some journals are preaching ethics like an old time revival is in session.  This raises an interesting question: what is the source of ethics?
        Despite widespread belief in the scientific establishment that ethics is a product of evolution, leading journals are calling for the old Judeo-Christian moral qualities of integrity, honesty, trustworthiness and virtue.  For example, three bioethicists writing in Science1 (the journal victimized by Hwang’s deceit) recalled how the early chemist Robert Boyle (a staunch Christian) took steps to enforce honesty among his fellow scientists:
    In the 17th century, trust and integrity in science were central to the system of publication that we have inherited.  For example, the scientific community had to decide which reports from explorers from distant parts of the globe were reliable.  The issue also arose for the emerging experimental sciences, which Boyle and his colleagues at the Royal Society of London argued depended on actually witnessing the experimental events.  Boyle created the precursor to the modern scientific publication to provide sufficient detail so that other scientists could replicate the experiments, thus adding witnesses to the experimental data.  In cases where this was impractical, it would serve to produce sufficient information so that the readers were “virtual witnesses”.
        An important part of 17th-century scientific epistemology concerned establishing how one could tell that the reports were worth believing.  This included information about the skill of purported “witnesses,” design of the author, internal consistency of the account given, and whether contradictory “testimony” existed in the scientific literature.  Perhaps the most important protection was the integrity of the “informant,”  Therefore, establishing the rules by which one was trustworthy (a “gentleman”) became critical.
      (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    The word integrity appears 12 times in this short editorial.  Though scientists today have inherited Boyle’s system of procedures to ensure trustworthiness, and though many institutions try to teach ethics, the authors deny that procedures can guarantee results without individual morality:
    Although some research universities now require that doctoral and postdoctoral students complete fairly elaborate courses in ethics, many more treat students to a sandbox morality lesson consisting of the admonition not to lie, cheat, or steal data.  The courses may have little effect on future misconduct.  The idea that research training, such as that required in the United States for some federally funded trainees and emphasized by the National Research Council report, in itself would have prevented fabrication on such a grand scale in South Korea strains credibility.
        Teachers must themselves be judged by the authorities in our institutions–not only for their ability to produce science, but also to be scientists of virtue and integrity.  The ability to give testimony and to act as a witness can be modeled, and students should be allowed to exercise skills of discernment and skepticism about results that seem unlikely or behaviors that are worrisome without punishment.  The lesson to be learned is that we need to do a better job of holding research institutions accountable for setting up systems and mentorship that will produce integrity in its scientists.
    Nature,2 similarly, after the extent of the scandal came to light, pounded its pulpit about the centrality of ethics: “Research ethics matter immensely to the health of the scientific enterprise,” an Editorial pronounced: “Anyone who thinks differently should seek employment in another sphere.”  (What other spheres might be happy without ethics was left to the imagination.)  This same editorial tried to draw a distinction between relative and absolute ethical violations: “Furthermore, the question of what constitutes an ethical transgression may vary between societies that elect to impose different rules, whereas scientific fraud knows no borders.”  But can an evolutionary process yield universal standards of right and wrong?
        Both Nature and Science discussed their initiatives to shore up the trustworthiness of papers they publish by fortifying the peer review process and opening the “black box” to public scrutiny.  These efforts, however praiseworthy, beg the question whether process can compensate for individual integrity.
    1Mildred K. Cho, Glenn McGee, David Magnus, “Lessons of the Stem Cell Scandal,” Science, 3 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5761, pp. 614 - 615, DOI: 10.1126/science.1124948.
    2Editorial, “Ethics and Fraud,” Nature 439, 117-118 (12 January 2006) | doi:10.1038/439117a.
    You can’t get blood out of a turnip, and you can’t get ethics out of evolution.  A simplistic evolutionary ethic is that whatever aids fitness is good.  This was the polluted fountain from which eugenics, social Darwinism, radical capitalism, nazism and communism sprung.  A less progressive evolutionary ethic is that whatever aids survival is good.  But a more reasoned analysis leads one to understand that ethics is utterly meaningless in Darwin’s world.  The word “good” does not even exist in the Darwin Dictionary.  Evolution is what evolution does.  The detached, dispassionate scientist watches a society kill itself through treachery and self-interest, and merely takes notes without any hint of judgment.  That is why even survival is not “good” or “bad” in an evolving, materialistic universe.  It may make you feel bad that a nation of terrorists swamps your alabaster city, or that a fellow scientist got rich by plagiarizing your work through bribery and fraud, but feelings are mere neurophysical responses to certain stimuli.  We must realize this when listening to the sermons of the Big Science revivalists; they are speaking nonsense to claim that integrity is good, or scientific progress is good, or fraud is bad.  Don’t let them borrow words from the Bible.  It is cheating to say cheating is a sin when you don’t believe sin exists.  To be consistent, an evolutionist would have to say, even if the whole planet destroyed itself, so what?  No big deal.  Things happen.
        Now think even deeper.  All such words like fraud, misconduct, punishment, trust, integrity, virtue, and honesty are words describing true moral categories.  Evolutionists try to construe these words as artifacts of social evolution.  They employ game theory (02/10/2004, 09/05/2003) to describe means by which populations reward cooperators and punish non-cooperators.  They think that these natural means bypass the need for moral categories and yield systems of ethics that mimic the Judeo-Christian values and produce religion (see 02/02/2006 story).  Why, then, did Nature, which frequently publishes such ideas, say that “scientific fraud knows no borders”?  This is a statement assuming absolute morality.  Surely a consistent evolutionist could conceive of a population where completely different “ethical standards” might have emerged.  But if not, if they claim that moral absolutes familiar to us are inevitable by a process of evolution, then they have ascribed these moral qualities to matter, as if they were like constants of physics.  We could then ask anthropic questions, like what fine-tuned the moral constants to produce a universe in which honesty emerged as a universally-acknowledged virtue?
        Secular scientists get worked up over ethics when serious lapses occur that threaten their trustworthiness.  Their speculations about how the moral sense evolved provide a thin cloak over an image of God they cannot hide.  By preaching virtue, integrity, trustworthiness and honesty, they are tacitly affirming the Biblical teaching that morality is rooted in the unchanging moral perfections of God.  Interesting that Hwang’s downfall has been called a “fall from grace” (see New Scientist).  Would that today’s Royal Society, AAAS and NAS and every other institution of Big Science, repent of their apostasy, and again heed the admonition Robert Boyle wrote in his will, “Wishing them also a most happy success in their laudable attempts to discover the true nature of the works of God, and praying, that they and all other searchers into physical truths may cordially refer their attainments to the glory of the Author of Nature, and the benefit of mankind.”
    Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsBible and Theology
    Big Bang Threatened by Axis of Evil    02/03/2006  
    “We thought we knew all about the Big Bang – but a blip in the cosmic afterglow is threatening our ideas,” reported Marcus Chown in The Independent.  The “Axis of Evil” he speaks of is not North Korea and Iran, but a newly found polarity in the cosmic background radiation that is not explainable by current Big Bang cosmologies.  Independent-thinking cosmologists like Jorge Magueijo are heightening their anti-bang rhetoric with these findings: “there may be something seriously wrong with our big bang models,” Chown, the author of The Universe Next Door, reported.  Others are trying to fit the data into current models.
    The axis isn’t evil.  The cosmologies built on faulty assumptions might be, but give the universe a break; it isn’t responsible for what mankind did.
    Next headline on:  Cosmology
    How Reporters Exaggerate Darwinism    02/03/2006  
    “Scientists force evolution in the lab,” announces Robert Roy Britt for LiveScience (see MSNBC copy).  A scientist forced a mutation that turned a green caterpillar into a black one.  The reader doesn’t get the rest of the story till the last line: “The next step, the researchers said, is to see if the variations do indeed occur in the wild.”
    Just one example among thousands that Charlie’s promoters pull on the public year after year, decade after decade.  Let the reader beware.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryMediaTerrestrial Zoology
    Lesson from Laetoli: Observations Should Not Conform to Preconceived Ideas    02/03/2006  
    David Menton examined the quarrel over Mexican footprints dating “too early” for human evolution theories (see 11/30/2005 entry).  On Answers in Genesis, he has pictures of some of the prints, including one with a left-right stride and another with the right shape and indentations.  He disputes the evolutionary responses that these are not true human footprints.  He reminds readers that the African Laeoli prints found by Mary Leakey looked perfectly modern but were age-dated from the time of Lucy, when no modern humans were thought to exist.  How did the evolutionary artists render the scene?  They drew upright-walking hairy creatures with ape-like faces.  “Pity the evolutionists,” Dr. Menton jokes.  “They can’t force ape feet into the Laetoli footprints and they can’t pull human feet out of the Mexican foot prints.”
    This is a good time to review our quick refresher course, Guide to Evolutionary Theory.
    Next headline on:  Early ManFossilsDating Methods
    Geologists Fight Over Demise of Dinosaurs    02/03/2006  
    “No basis in fact” and “circular reasoning” are some of the phrases in a UK News Telegraph report about the cause of dinosaur extinction, along with words like “feud” and “no consensus” and “doggedly undecided.”  Despite the “much-loved disaster movie scenario” of an asteroid impact wiping out the dinosaurs, a significant number of critics dispute the idea.  They claim the impact predated the extinction, and even doubt that one theory can explain it.
    Note the distinction between the real backroom brawls in historical sciences vs. the absolute certainty conveyed in the children’s TV shows.  Here is another reason for “teach the controversy.”
    Next headline on:  DinosaursDating MethodsGeology
    Precision of Cell Quality Control Described    02/03/2006  
    Two research papers in Molecular Cell give more glimpses into the precision of cellular controls to ensure mistakes are detected and weeded out before harm occurs.  Vogel, Bukau and Mayer1 found that the molecular “chaperone” Hsp70 has a “proline switch,” found in all living organisms.  This switch regulates when the polypeptide needing to be folded is attached for processing, then ejected:
    Crucial to the function of Hsp70 chaperones is the nucleotide-regulated transition between two conformational states, the ATP bound state with high association and dissociation rates for substrates and the ADP bound state with two and three orders of magnitude lower association and dissociation rates.  The spontaneous transition between the two states is extremely slow, indicating a high energy barrier for the switch that regulates the transition.  Here we provide evidence that a universally conserved proline in the ATPase domain constitutes the switch that assumes alternate conformations in response to ATP binding and hydrolysis.  The conformation of the proline, acting through an invariant arginine as relay, determines and stabilizes the opened and closed conformation of the substrate binding domain and thereby regulates the chaperone activity of Hsp70.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    What is Hsp70 used for?  “The 70 kDa heat shock proteins (Hsp70) are molecular chaperones that assist folding of newly synthesized polypeptides, refolding of misfolded proteins, and translocation of proteins through biological membranes, and in addition have regulatory functions in signal transduction, cell cycle [i.e., cell division], and apoptosis [i.e., programmed cell death].”
        Another paper in the same issue by Gromadski, Daviter and Rodnina2 looked at a quality-control mechanism in the ribosome, where proteins are synthesized before going to the chaperone for folding.  They found a way that the machine recognizes typos in transfer-RNA (tRNA) molecules, by authenticating each molecule in a series of precision molecular contacts at the docking site.  Mismatches slow down the assembly line from 120-260 per second to 3-4 per second, and result in a thousandfold faster ejection of errors, regardless of their shape:
    Ribosomes take an active part in aminoacyl-tRNA selection by distinguishing correct and incorrect codon-anticodon pairs.  Correct codon-anticodon complexes are recognized by a network of ribosome contacts that are specific for each position of the codon-anticodon duplex and involve A-minor RNA interactions.  Here, we show by kinetic analysis that single mismatches at any position of the codon-anticodon complex result in slower forward reactions and a uniformly 1000-fold faster dissociation of the tRNA from the ribosome.  This suggests that high-fidelity tRNA selection is achieved by a conformational switch of the decoding site between accepting and rejecting modes, regardless of the thermodynamic stability of the respective codon-anticodon complexes or their docking partners at the decoding site.  The forward reactions on mismatched codons were particularly sensitive to the disruption of the A-minor interactions with 16S rRNA and determined the variations in the misreading efficiency of near-cognate codons.
    The scientists calculated that this one proofreading step reduces errors from somewhere between one in 1,000 to one in 100,000.3  There was no mention of evolution in either of these papers.
    1Vogel, Bukau and Mayer, “Allosteric Regulation of Hsp70 Chaperones by a Proline Switch,” Molecular Cell, Volume 21, Issue 3, 3 February 2006, Pages 359-367, doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2005.12.017.
    2Gromadski, Daviter and Rodnina, “A Uniform Response to Mismatches in Codon-Anticodon Complexes Ensures Ribosomal Fidelity,” Molecular Cell, Volume 21, Issue 3, 3 February 2006, Pages 369-377,
    3There are many other proofreading steps in the process.  There are quality-control mechanisms when the DNA is decoded, when the messenger RNA is assembled, when it enters the ribosome, when the amino acids are attached to the proper transfer-RNA, when the tRNA enters the ribosome (as shown here), when the polypeptide exits the ribosome, when the polypeptide is folded in the chaperone, and even later, when post-translational modifications take place in the endoplasmic reticulum.
    In the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life, biochemist Dean Kenyon remarked that it is precisely at this molecular level that we find the most powerful evidence for intelligent design on the earth.  We couldn’t possibly report on all such stories flowing daily out of the scientific journals.  We just provide tidbits from time to time to show you what the Darwinists are up against these days.  Their answer is a mysterious silence.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Stories
    Ruse Gives Dennett Poor Grade on “Evolution of Religion” Book    02/02/2006  
    Daniel Dennett is one of those Darwinists not shy about getting in the face of religious people, particularly Christians.  Philosopher and pro-Darwinist historian Michael Ruse, on the other hand, has spent enough time around theologically-inclined people to give them a more sympathetic hearing.  Ruse has regularly appeared on panels and in debates with leaders of the intelligent design movement,1 and appears to have softened his stance somewhat against the anti-Darwinists, ID leaders and religious people in general since his staunch anticreationist testimony in the 1981 Arkansas “Balanced Treatment” trial that was a major influence on Judge Overton ruling that creationism was inherently religious.  It was interesting to see what Michael Ruse would say, therefore, in a review of Daniel Dennett’s new book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Viking/Allen Lane, 2006), which appeared in Nature this week.2
        Dennett’s assumption is that religion has evolved by natural selection just like everything else and therefore has no validity when it talks about God, truth, or the natural world.  Ruse is concerned that a book like this is not particularly helpful in a country so polarized between blue states and red states (which, he alleges, is as much a religious divide as a political one).
    It is against this background that we should read Breaking the Spell by the US philosopher Daniel Dennett, a notorious non-believer.  You would not expect this book to bring comfort to Christians, and it certainly does not.  So little impressed is Dennett by religion’s claims to truth that he does not even bother to produce new material.  He simply quotes at length from earlier writings.  He is nevertheless trying to move the discussion forward, following in the tradition of the eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher David Hume and providing a natural history of religion.  Dennett aims to give an account of how and why religion appeared, and how and why it has the hold it has today.  As you might expect, given that he is an ardent darwinian, for Dennett religion and its origins are ultimately a matter of biological fitness to survive and conquer.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    Though Ruse agrees that religion is a product of evolution, one can sense him distancing himself from Dennett’s brashness and not wishing to be pictured as a “notorious” non-believer.  This perception is reinforced in the rest of the review.
        “In the United States today there is a need for a good book on religion,” he says, but later answers, “Dennett’s is not the book for which we search.”  Ruse sympathizes with Dennett’s portrayal of the commercialized mega-church movement as “farcical” except that such churches are filled with people with political clout on moral issues like abortion, homosexual attitudes, capital punishment and the war against terror.  Merely ridiculing these people is not going to help critics.  “If we do not like what the churches are feeding people, we had better come up with an attractive alternative,” he says.  Apparently this means Dennett’s book is not attractive.
        Ruse expressed both philosophical and historical problems with the book.  Dennett treats religion as a “delusion” that is all “smoke and mirrors” and therefore “a rationally justified belief system” it is not.  “However,” Ruse continues, “a naturalistic analysis of religion in itself has no direct bearing on the truth of religious claims.”  By that he means they must be dealt with, not merely dismissed, or they can run you over.  “My eyes are the end products of a long process of natural selection,” he illustrates, exhibiting his own darwinian belief for the sake of argument: “Does that make any less real the truck I see bearing down on me as I stand in the middle of the road?”
        Ruse also complains about historical flaws in Dennett’s presentation, and inserts a suggestion of an empirical difficulty in the naturalistic story for religion:
    Most problematic is Dennett’s blind spot regarding history.  There is no real account of the way religion has developed and of how we have ended up where we are today.  Another major weakness is the exclusive focus on the United States, which is a peculiar country where religion plays a huge role, far bigger than in most of Europe.  This difference is reflected in many diverse ways, particularly in the social values mentioned above.  You cannot begin to talk about biological bases for religion‘genes for God’ and that sort of thing – without taking account of the fact that peoples of very similar biological background behave in very different ways about religion and its implications.  Only history – the fact that the United States was founded by people with major religious concerns, and that this has persisted for four centuries – can help us to tease apart the cultural and the biological.
    Though Ruse agrees with Dennett that non-believers can report “properly” on religion, he ends by advocating more empathy than Dennett displayed in the book.  Ruse ends with his own version of “friendship evangelism” –
    Unless you have some sense of what fires people up, you are never going to reach them or have any hope of shifting their beliefs.  The debate over religion in the United States is intense and profoundly affects the status of science.  I hardly have to remind Nature readers of the battle to introduce ‘intelligent design’ into biology classrooms.  But we need better books than this to address the issues.

    1Michael Ruse has had friendly sparring matches against Phillip Johnson on TV, for instance, and will be appearing on a panel Feb. 23 against Paul Nelson at Missouri Western.
    2Michael Ruse, “A natural history of religion,” Nature, 439, 535 (2 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439535a.
    Michael Ruse seems to be walking a tightrope between not offending his Darwin Party colleagues too much and yet not inviting valid criticisms from his newfound Christian friends like Paul Nelson and Phillip Johnson.  He knows for one thing that they are not using intelligent design as a religious argument, and he also knows that they are not delusional morons in a hall of mirrors but smart, rational, knowledgeable people.  He has experienced up close the kind of beliefs that fire them up and knows it is more than just crass commercialism or “genes for god” that they have and scientists do not.
        As a historian and philosopher, Ruse also knows that the materialistic answer is not so well defined or easily defended.  J. P. Moreland has said that Ruse took a pounding from fellow philosophers of science after testifying at the Arkansas trial that there were clearly-defined demarcation criteria between science and pseudoscience, when he knew better.  Ruse knows of esteemed philosophers who deny that creationism can be so neatly pigeonholed as religion.  He knows that science cannot speak definitively on matters of history.  Though he still accepts materialism, he understands that David Hume was not the last word on the subject.
        It’s hard to demonize people you have had lunch with.  We applaud Michael Ruse for spending quality time with ID leaders rather than just regurgitating the epithets of his fellow mad-dog Darwinists.  He probably had to include enough pro-Darwin cheering to get his review past the Nature censors, but appears to genuinely want the Dennettses and Dawkinses of the party to tone down their rhetoric and listen for a change.  We encourage Ruse to promote empathy, and hope he will proceed beyond it to understanding – maybe, after enough pondering of his own brain, even to enlightenment.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryBible and TheologyPolitics and Ethics
    Birds Sing Duets   02/01/2006    
    The little wrens in your backyard are not only soloists; they sing duets.  A number of birds have been found to sing together in unison, or in antiphonal pairs.  Some alternate melodic lines in rapid-fire succession and some sing in choirs.  This was described by Susan Milius in Science News.1  One ornithologist was stunned in the mists of Ecuador when he heard a group of wrens singing together, in “one of the most complex singing performances yet described in a nonhuman animal.”  Duetting is known in at least 222 species of birds.
        One researcher found a four-part, synchronized chorus with alternating parts of males and females who shifted parts at least twice a second.
    And when one considers the split-second alternation, the birds’ singing surpasses human vocal virtuosity.
        That’s the latest, most extreme example of duetting birds, a phenomenon that has fascinated birders for decades and inspired its own chorus of theorizing about what might drive such displays.  Warning off rivals?  Foiling flirtations?  Checking musical passwords?  In the past few years, field biologists have applied modern ideas about evolution to begin new tests of why duetters do it....
    Over several decades, scientists have offered at least a dozen explanations for the purpose of avian duets.  The theories have focused on the forest, the pair, or conflicts of interest between individual birds.
      (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
    Milius listed a number of proposals, but each seems to have exceptions, and none rises to the top.  “All the ideas about the function of duets need more testing,” is the conclusion.  “As bird duets start to make sense, maybe they’ll shed light on other duetting species.  Birds duet.  Bugs duet.  Even some primates do it.” (That’s us.)
        The online article has links to websites where you can listen to sound files of the birds singing.  Here’s one by Mennill and Rogers and another from Daniel Mennill in Costa Rica.
    1Susan Milius, “Just Duet: Biologists puzzle over bird’s ensemble vocalizations,” Science News, Week of Jan. 28, 2006; Vol. 169, No. 4 , p. 58.
    It seems overkill for evolution to produce the complex brains and sensory capabilities required for high-speed coordinated singing of melodic lines just to protect territory or attract mates.  There are things in nature too wonderful for mere survival.
    Next headline on:  BirdsAmazing Stories
    Space Travel Too Hazardous for Humans   02/01/2006    
    Astronomy magazine’s March 2006 issue contains a couple of sobering articles for those who like to dream of humans mastering the universe.  Asking “Will moon dust stop NASA?”, Trudy E. Bell described the dangers of space dust: “it sticks to spacesuits, wreaks havoc on equipment, and may be physically harmful,” she wrote, citing the experiences of Apollo astronauts who spent mere hours with the stuff.  Moon dust is as abrasive as sandpaper, annoying, and irritating.  Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan became intimately familiar with it when a broken fender on the rover sent plumes of lunar dust onto him and his partner.  In the lunar module, it smelled like gunpowder, irritated the eyes and took three months to grow out from under his fingernails.  He commented, “There’s got to be a point where the dust just overtakes you, and everything mechanical quits working.”
        Things biological might quit working, too.  Bell describes silicosis, a lung disease that has caused death in miners and dust-bowl victims during the Great Depression.  The razor-sharp silica crystals, if inhaled, cannot be removed, and our immune systems are powerless against them.  Furthermore, Bell warns that Mars dust may be even worse.  The strongly oxidized Martian dust may “burn things like plastics, rubber, or human flesh as viciously as laundry bleach.”  It probably smells terrible, too, because there is no forest to purify the environment (see USDA press release).
        In this double-whammy issue of Astronomy that challenges our cherished science-fiction ideals with heavy doses of reality, Jacqueline Garget asked, like The Shadow, “Who knows what dangers lurk in space?”  Beyond just dust, she warned that “Radiation can damage DNA and even kill – and space is filled with it.”  X-ray flares from the sun, which occur unpredictably even during quiet times of the solar minimum, can send lethal showers of particles toward astronauts.  High-energy galactic cosmic rays, largely shielded by our atmosphere, are also dangerous to humans.
        It’s very difficult to protect astronauts from these hazards, because shields typically produce secondary showers of particles that can wreak even more widespread damage than the initial incoming ray.  Maybe engineers will some day figure out how to produce effective and low-mass shielding, but Garget didn’t end her article much more optimistically than did Trudy Bell.  “Years ago, scientists didn’t fully understand space radiation,” she concluded, “and while they know more now, it’s not enough to send astronauts on a 3-year mission safely.  We must learn the long-term effects of space travel on the human body, and how to protect voyagers, before we can boldly and safely go where no one has gone before.”  Apparently the screenwriters for Star Trek conveniently overlooked these hazards.  See also the 09/14/2000, 05/02/2001, 11/06/2003 and 12/08/2003 entries on space radiation hazards.
    Update 02/02/2006: New Scientist published an article about the risk of proton radiation in space.  It says that protons, the most abundant particles in space, cause twice as much DNA damage as expected.
    This little entry is provided for your appreciation of all you have down here, under our atmosphere, under our magnetic shield, on this lovely and Privileged Planet.  As you safely watch science fiction on TV, enjoy the fact you are not out there with the characters in the cosmic shooting gallery.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemHuman BodyPhysics

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      I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University.  When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, I’m absolutely amazed....  Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily.  Keep up the good work.
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    (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.”
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    [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.”
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    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.”
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    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.”
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    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.”
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    Featured Creation Scientist for February

    William Harvey
    1578 - 1657

    A contemporary of Galileo, Kepler, Bacon, Descartes and Shakespeare, William Harvey is another important figure in the establishment of the scientific method, this time in the field of medicine.  His claim to fame is for demonstrating the circulation of the blood and the action of the heart as a pump driving this circulation.  Through a series of clever experiments, he furthered the acceptance of experimentation for determining the workings of nature, rather than putting excessive reliance on authority.  Most interestingly, his primary achievement was inspired by a statement in the Bible.

    Overt indications about Harvey’s personal faith are rare, though he did speak often of design, and felt that science was a godly vocation.  Few of his manuscripts survive.  Most were looted by rioters in the Civil War of 1642 when Harvey was 64 years old (a severe trial for him), and the extant works reveal little about Harvey the man.  One short biography by a contemporary librarian divulges little else; Robert Boyle filled in one important blank.  What is clear, however, is that Harvey believed in the divine authorship and authority of the Bible and the deity of Christ, and that the search for purpose in nature resulting from God’s creative wisdom was a strong motivation behind his work.  One particular explicit reference to Scripture he made is particularly instructive for our purposes, and will provide the conclusion for this story.

    Born in 1578 of “yeoman stock” in a family of Kentish farmers who had succeeded enough to move into commerce, William was eldest of six brothers, all of whom became successful merchants.  His father was a man of means who became mayor of the town.  From age 10, young William studied in Canterbury, then moved on to Cambridge on a medical scholarship.  After graduating from Cambridge in 1597, he went abroad to further his studies in medicine at the best medical school of the day, the University of Padua.  Having achieved his degree in Italy, he returned to England in 1602 and gave an impressive performance on his exams before the College of Physicians.  A couple of years later he made a fortuitous marriage to Elizabeth Browne, daughter of the king’s physician, but they had no children.

    William Harvey practiced medicine in London and in 1607 was elected to the Royal College of Physicians, where he received a lifetime post as a lecturer in 1616.  His reputation as a leading physician in England was established and well earned.  Around this time, he also was making his views on the circulation of blood known.  Shortly thereafter, in 1617, he became the personal physician of King James I (of King James Bible fame), and later to King Charles in 1625, with whom he stayed during the Civil War of 1642-1648 (the Puritan Revolution and short-lived reform government of Oliver Cromwell).  With the return of royal government, Harvey, now 69 years old, returned to London in 1647 to live out his days with his brothers.  Most of his long career was spent at St. Bartholomew’s hospital in London.  Late in life, Harvey was elected president of the Royal College of Physicians but refused the honor.  He died in 1657, shortly before the careers of Robert Boyle and Antony van Leeuwenhoek took off.

    Harvey’s lecture notes show him to be a witty and independent thinker.  Once he rhymed, “There is a lust in man no charm can tame: Of loudly publishing his neighbor’s shame: On eagles wings immortal scandals fly, while virtuous actions are born and die.”  Though his work on blood circulation is legendary, we should pause to observe that most scientific discoveries are elaborations of previous work.  While it is true that many physicians in Harvey’s time placed undue influence on classical authority, particularly of Galen, not all did; the popular maverick Paracelsus, for instance, declared his intellectual independence by burning the works of Avicenna and Galen.  Many read the classics only to critique them.  Harvey, like most in his time, was a staunch Aristotelian, but not slavishly so.  Furthermore, his experimentalism was heir to a long line of empirical work by his predecessors Vesalius, Fabricius and Colombo.  He was not, in other words, working on questions that had not already been matters of intense study, and he was not the only “discoverer” of blood circulation.  The Egyptian physician Ibn Al-Nafis had made significant headway 300 years earlier explaining pulmonary circulation.  Some of Harvey’s hypotheses later proved false, and his theory was incomplete in itself.   A recent book claims that the widespread story that Harvey predicted the existence of capillaries is a myth.  Nevertheless, his primary work An Anatomical Study of the Motion of the Heart and of the Blood in Animals (1628) was “certainly immeasurably influential on Western medical practice” according to historian Michael Hart, and his Essays on the Generation of Animals (1651) also formed the basis for modern embryology: Ex ova omnia, he wrote: “Everything from an egg.”

    Harvey’s clever experimental approach that demonstrated the circulation of blood from one side of the heart to the other, through the lungs and around the body making one big circuit, is well known.  (Interestingly, he was not all that impressed with the opinions of Francis Bacon, one of his patients.)  Diagrams of Harvey pressing fingers at precise points on veins on the arm to illustrate his ideas are readily available.  The details of how Harvey’s theory overcame classical and medieval concepts of the motion of blood, the function of veins and arteries, the action of valves in the veins, and the role of the heart, are all available in the secular literature.  Students of history can unravel these details.  What concerns us here is William Harvey’s place in the Christian influence on science.  Some surviving references provide glimpses into his motivation and beliefs.

    In a recollection by Robert Boyle, Harvey, shortly before he died, related to the young chemist the clue to his discovery.  Writing 31 years after Harvey’s death, Boyle recalls how he had asked the eminent physician about the things that induced him to consider the circulation of the blood:

    He answer’d me, that when he took notice that the Valves in the Veins of so many several Parts of the Body, were so Plac’d that they gave free passage to the Blood Towards the Heart, but oppos’d the passage of the Venal Blood the Contrary way: He was invited to imagine, that so Provident a Cause as Nature had not so Plac’d so many Valves without design; and no Design seem’d more probable than that, since the Blood could not well, because of the interposing Valves, be sent by the Veins to the Limbs; it should be sent through the Arteries, and Return through the Veins,, whose Valves did not oppose its course that way.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

    Lest this design by “Nature” appear Deistic, Emerson Thomas McMullen in Christian History (Issue 76, XXI:4, p. 41) stated that Harvey frequently “praised the workings of God’s sovereignty in creation—which he termed ‘Nature’”  We must not, in other words, read back 18th-century French concepts into 17th-century English terminology.  McMullen, a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and a specialist in the life of Harvey, provides quotes that show Harvey’s provident Nature was an active, intelligent, wise, personal agent: Nature destines, ordains, intends, gives gifts, provides, counter-balances, institutes, is careful.  Harvey spoke of the “skillful and careful craftsmanship of the valves and fibres and the rest of the fabric of the heart.”  According to McMullen, Harvey’s primary achievement, the explanation of the circulation of the blood, was occasioned in part “by asking why God put so many valves in the veins and none in the arteries.”  He believed that nature does nothing “in vain” (in Vein, perhaps, but not in Vain).

    William Harvey also viewed natural philosophy as a sacred calling.  This recurring theme in this series is clearly evident in a comment he made to a friend, “The examination of the bodies of animals has always been my delight; and I have thought that we might thence not only obtain an insight into the lighter mysteries of Nature, but there perceive a kind of image or reflex of the omnipotent Creator himself.” (McMullen, Ibid.).  This glimpse into Harvey’s leitmotiv shows him to be acting freely in a worshipful spirit as he undertook his scientific studies, not under compulsion as a naturalist trapped in a predominantly Christian culture.  McMullen says that William Harvey was a “lifelong thinker on purpose” in anatomy and physiology, mentioning this throughout his writings in an effort to discern the final causes of things.  This was not mere Aristotelianism.  “Harvey was a Christian,” McMullen states unequivocally, “who believed that purpose in nature reflected God’s design and intentions.”  The appeal of being able to glimpse something of the mind of God, to understand how he had made things work, in the hope of understanding more fully both God and his works, has been a frequent and productive force in the development of modern science.

    To what extent Christian faith was realized in Harvey’s personal life is hard to say for sure, but McMullen claims Harvey was influenced by the Calvinist environment at Cambridge, and had George Estey, a clergymen and lecturer in Hebrew, as a tutor.  A couple of anecdotes reveal his faith was more than cultural or intellectual assent to prevailing opinion.  Once he referred to the Apostle John’s account of the crucifixion when discussing the pericardium, hinting at his familiarity with Scripture.  On another occasion, when discussing parturition, he spoke of Mary’s pregnancy.  It’s interesting that instead of calling her child simply Jesus, he called him “our Savior Christ, of men most perfect.”

    One other Harvey quote is particularly instructive on the relation of the Bible to science.  Here is where a Scriptural passage can be cited as both a scientific fact corroborated thousands of years later, and also as a principle acting as a stimulus for scientific discovery.  In Leviticus 17:11, Moses wrote, under divine inspiration, that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.”  Again in verse 14, God says through Moses, “for it is the life of all flesh.  Its blood sustains its life.... for the life of all flesh is its blood” (NKJV).  Recall that the Greek doctrine of unbalanced body humors (fluids) as the cause of disease would not be discarded till the time of Pasteur 200 years later; for many more years, physicians would routinely perform blood-letting to try to restore the balance, often hastening death by removing the very life-giving substance God had set in circulation to nourish the entire body.  Would that physicians had taken seriously this ancient Biblical insight recovered by Harvey.  It was perhaps his most important finding.  According to McMullen, Harvey concluded after demonstrating the circulatory system, that “life therefore resides in the blood (as we are informed in our sacred writings).”  Harvey also quoted these specific passages from Leviticus when making a point about the beginning of life.  There is a lesson for 21st century scientists here.  If the Bible truly is the word of the Creator, it should provide clues that can open up new areas of research – even if it was not intended primarily as a science textbook.  There could be many more scientific insights waiting to be discovered in its pages.  Could the Bible again provide keys to unlock today’s greatest scientific questions?  Could it steer us away from disastrous mistakes, like bloodletting?  Let a new generation of scientists put the word of God to the test.

    In the Bible, the heart is often symbolic of the innermost being of man: the mind and the will.  Considering this chapter in the history of science, the counsel of Proverbs 4:23 is vital in both the figurative and literal sense: “Keep your heart with all diligence,” Solomon wrote under divine inspiration, “for out of it spring the issues of life.”  Harvey could not have agreed more.  The heart, he echoed, “is the household divinity which, discharging its function, nourishes, cherishes, quickens the whole body, and is indeed the foundation of life, the source of all action.”

    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).

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