Insects Lead the Way 04/28/2006
Why engineer things from scratch, when we can imitate nature? Two recent examples
come from the world of insects. A press release from
begins, Using the eyes of insects such as dragonflies and houseflies as models,
a team of bioengineers at University of California, Berkeley, has created a series of artificial
compound eyes. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Insect eyes use thousands of facets to get a wide field of view without
distortion. How can humans use this technology? Potential applications include
surveillance; high-speed motion detection; environmental sensing; medical procedures, such as
endoscopies and image-guided surgeries, that require cameras; and a number of clinical treatments
that can be controlled by implanted light delivery devices. Anyone who has missed
swatting a fly knows that the insects have these first three applications down pat.
The authors published their work in Science this week.1
Human committees have a hard time arriving at a consensus about what is the
best solution to a problem. Maybe they should learn from bees. Ten thousand of
them swarming chaotically somehow converge quickly on a solution to the problem of the best location
for a new hive. A press release from
says that they have a unique method of deciding which site is right: With great efficiency
they narrow down the options and minimize bad decisions. How? By coalition
building till a quorum develops, the article explains. The scientists found that bees
use their famous waggle dance not only when shopping for food, but when scouting
for real estate. The researchers watched 4,000 scouts report back to the hive from various
directions. The superior site usually was not the first one chosen. In a 16-hour
process, the swarm came to agreement and found the best solution. This is a striking
example of decision making by an animal group that is complicated enough to rival the dealings
of any department committee, said Thomas Seeley, Cornell biologist.
What can managers take home from this nature lesson? Include an open forum of ideas,
and employ frank discussions and friendly competition. This quorum-setting method of
aggregating independent opinions might help achieve collective intelligence and thus avoid
1Jeong et al., Biologically Inspired Artificial Compound Eyes,
28 April 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5773, pp. 557 - 561, DOI: 10.1126/science.1123053.
Funny, honey; none of these articles mentioned evolution,
but they seemed to have no problem using the word design.
Non-Coding DNA Has Far More Complexity Than Was Imagined
Next headline on:
The concept of junk DNA appears to be fading away.
A mathematical analysis of the human genome suggests that so-called junk DNA might not be so useless after all,
reported Paul Rincon for the BBC News.
The photo caption reads, The genome may possess far more complexity than was imagined.
A team from IBM found motifs involved in regulation of the genes. These showed a
relationship between functional areas of the genes and those not previously considered functional.
Certain structures, called pyknons, are apparently involved as
RNA silencers that turn genes off or on in complex ways, even after a gene
has been translated. More detail and an illustration is provided at the
IBM Research press release.
These regions may indeed contain structure that we havent seen before, said Dr.
Isodore Rigoutsos. If indeed one of them corresponds to an active element that is involved
in some kind of process, then the extent of cell process regulation that actually takes place is way beyond
anything we have seen in the last decade. The paper by Rigoutsos et al. was published in
1Rigoutsos et al., Short blocks from the noncoding parts of the human genome have
instances within nearly all known genes and relate to biological processes,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
published online before print April 24, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0601688103.
Geneticists would have been way ahead of the curve if they had
listened to IBM instead of Dawkins. The average lab does not have the resources to prove or
disprove this, so it will need a lot of effort by lots of people, said Dr. Rigoutsos.
Not only are Information Technology (IT) people better suited to understanding codes, they might
even benefit from imitating natures programming tricks. Lifes code works,
doesnt it? Look at a bird, or a butterfly, or a human baby. Most of the time the
right parts come out in the right places, generation after generation, for thousands of years.
Hominid Claim Is More Philosophy Than Fossils 04/27/2006
Dr. Stephen Meyer used this point to good effect in a debate with evolutionist
Peter Ward in Seattle yesterday. Meyer countered that neo-Darwinian evolution had been
heuristically unfruitful in leading science to think that non-encoding DNA was simply junk,
an eyewitness said. Meyer insisted that design assumptions more readily led one to conclude
there was purpose in such junk DNA. Read all about this debate on
Next headline on:
Two weeks ago, the media had a feeding frenzy over Tim Whites claim that
his team found bones in Ethiopia from three
hominid species lined up in a vertical row, showing a clear progression toward humans. Now,
the fine print has come out. A review in Nature1 begins,
Deciding whether our ancestors evolved as a
single lineage may depend more on philosophy than fossils (emphasis added in all quotes).
Rex Dalton wrote some juicy lines in his article that creationists will
love, and evolutionists will insist are taken out of context (because evolution is a fact).
You be the judge:
One of Daltons subtitles is, Theory of Relativity. The context is the lineage
of these fossils, but the subtext is the differing interpretations about their relevance to the human story.
Everyone in this rugby match, however, can agree on one thing. The Ethiopian National Museum, which
has the new fossils, is a nice place for the stadium. Dalton ends, This strengthens
the museum as an ideal centre to study human evolution.
- The team suggests three species evolved as a single lineage between at least 4.4 million years
ago and 2.9 million years ago an era when humankind refined its ability to walk upright
while developing new ways to live (see timeline below).
The idea is one of the most contentious in palaeoanthropology. The fossil trove,
reported earlier this month (T. D. White et al. Nature 440, 883-889; 2006) has confirmed
[sic] some important aspects of the trail towards the genus Homo, which appeared around 2.3 million
years ago [sic]. But experts are still bickering over the relationship between the species that
have been found.
- Experts have squabbled over the relationship between Ar. ramidus, Au. anamensis and
Au. afarensis ever since they were discovered.
- This months Nature paper makes a bold argument, and shows the Awash team
seeking to put its mark on the record. Others in the field are impressed. When
you find 30 new hominid fossils, you are allowed a certain amount of conjecture,
says Bernard Wood, a palaeoanthropologist at George Washington University in Washington DC.
As always, they have done a fantastic job.
But he and others are unconvinced by the Awash teams conclusion:
This is only the first half of the rugby match, says Wood.
- Meave Leakey, lead author on the Au. anamensis discoveries in Kenya, is more blunt.
I dont believe this, she says. We do not have the specimens to fill the gaps.
- The existence of other species would cloud or eliminate the argument for a direct lineage.
My prejudice is there are more lineages rather than fewer more diversity, says Wood.
I have to concede these new data are dramatic. But we should beware coming out with a
complete explanation when we dont have all the evidence.
- This argument frustrates White. There were Martians there back then too, he says.
And spacecraft all over the Pliocene we just havent found them yet.
- Similar arguments run for various phases of hominid evolution, for example whether
Homo ergaster evolved into H. erectus, or whether they were two coexisting lineages
White advocates the former. But ultimately, the argument comes down to the point that
more fossils could always be found, so it is unclear that the two sides will ever agree.
1Rex Dalton, Feel it in your bones,
440, 1100-1101 (27 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/4401100a.
Didnt we foretell this? Go back to
April 12 when all the news media were slain in the spirit over
Whites holey relics. We warned that the field of
evolutionary paleoanthropology is filled with rivalry, contradiction, deception, exaggeration
and outright fraud. Notice that Daltons depiction of rivalry applies not
just to this case, but to various phases of hominid evolution indeed,
all of them.
Unconstant Constant Could Challenge Basic Physics 04/27/2006
We also said, Too bad the news media are all dupes; they think this is
science instead of mud wrestling. Our only mistake was getting the sport
wrong. We should have known that rugby is more bloody.
Next headline on:
Shifting constant could shake laws of nature, said Mark Peplow in Nature.1
From the speed of light to the charge on an electron, the fundamental constants of physics had been
assumed to be immutable, he continued. But that comfortable assumption is being challenged.
The latest challenge is ratio of the mass of a proton to the mass of an electron (1,836); some
Netherlands scientists who compared light from distant quasars with ultra-precise lab data
claim it is decreasing. The estimated decrease is small
just 20 parts per million over 12 billion years but if accepted, could produce new
ideas on how the universe is put together. Such an effect is not explained by anything
in physicists standard model of particle physics, Peplow said. This story also
made news of the week in Science magazine.2
1Mark Peplow, Shifting constant could shake laws of nature,
440, 1094-1095 (27 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/4401094a.
2Adrian Cho, Skewed Starlight Suggests Particle Masses Changed Over Eons,
21 April 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5772, p. 348, DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5772.348
CEH leaves this controversy for others to debate, but mentions
it for those interested in shaking the pillars to make
sure theyre rigid (or not) as Andy Fabian (U of Cambridge) is quoted as saying in
the article. Sometimes the most confident things in science become less confident as more
knowledge is gained. If we are not sure about constants of physics, how much less so for shaky,
slippery things like evolutionary theory?
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: Astrobiology Takes on I.D.
Next headline on:
The Center for Astrobiology at the University of Boulder is
hosting a symposium today entitled, Fossils and Genes: Exploring the Evolution of Life.
Douglas Futuyma (State University of New York) calls Evolution the most important theory in biology.
By his own admission, though, it is a theory filled with paradoxes:
Evolution is both a fact and a theory: the most comprehensive explanation of the features
and diversity of living things. It is the most important theory in biology, yet is surrounded by
paradoxes. Despite the simplicity of its central concepts, evolution has a long history of
misunderstandings. Despite its lack of moral or prescriptive content, evolution has been used
to justify social policies that range from the admirable to the appalling. Despite the increasingly
important role evolutionary principles and knowledge play in human biology, evolution is rejected by
more than half the American public. Of all the biological disciplines, evolutionary biology
has the most far-reaching philosophical implications and the most diverse applications to society.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
He is joined by Warren Allmon (Cornell), speaking on Evolution, Intelligent Design, and the Uneven Search for
a Consistent World View.
Darwin succeeded where others before him had failed in part because he offered the first truly
scientific (i.e., purely materialistic and therefore testable) theory to explain the history of life.
He permanently changed the terms on which theories in biology would be acceptable as science. Yet few
of Darwins contemporaries or those who followed truly internalized Darwinism into a coherent
and consistent world view. Materialistic science is vastly more important to modern society
than it was in Darwins time, yet scientists and non-scientists alike still struggle to fully reconcile
materialistic science with their personal and social search for meaning in life. On the one hand,
proponents of intelligent design have declared their intention to overthrow materialism and its
cultural legacies, which presumably would include not just Darwinism but also everything from agriculture
to modern medicine [sic]. On the other, many mainstream scientists both those who claim to be
religious and those who do not have attempted to reconcile their scientific pursuits with
their non-scientific personal philosophies. Can one simultaneously hold two mutually exclusive
philosophies of reality one materialistic and the other not? If so, how? And does doing
so make one intellectually dishonest? Is it possible to construct a logically consistent world view
that fully accommodates meaningful religious belief with materialistic science?
Sounds like Allmon has quite a challenge before him and so does Futuyma.
Notice several flaws, contradictions, and admissions in these abstracts.
UNESCO To Rebuild Mystery Babylon 04/26/2006
The only question left is which of the two quotes is winner of the SEQOTW prize, or whether its a draw.
- Charlie Worship: It is always Big D that is the figurehead of everything wonderful in science.
- Charlie Science: Notice that Darwin was responsible for redefining science as materialism.
Before Darwin, creationism and design thinking was common and produced no conflict, but Darwin permanently
changed the terms on which theories in biology would be acceptable as science. Changing the terms
of acceptability is not a matter of science, but a matter of philosophy about science.
- Charlie Morals: Darwinism knows no morals (as Futuyma admits), so it is illogical for him to
find anything admirable or appalling, or for Allmon to talk about intellectual honesty and meaning.
- Charlie Truth: Futuyma and Allmon just shot themselves in the foot
(see self-refuting fallacy). As materialists,
they pulled the rug out from under any validity to concepts of truth, while referring to philosophies of
- Charlie Logic: Allmon asserted that attacks on evolution are attacks on agriculture
and modern medicine (see non-sequitur).
Those disciplines were doing just fine before Charlie came along.
- Charlie Control: This Astrobiology symposium was only open to evolutionists. This
shows you not only which bed Astrobiology sleeps in, but how evolutionists rig the game to ridicule their opponents while
keeping them out of hearing range.
- Charlie Leadership: If less than half the population accepts Darwinism, Futuyma should seriously
consider the proposition that it would be good for him to get religion, because that apparently confers better
fitness. This would be a win-win situation. Religion would lose an enemy, and he would necessarily
undermine the fitness principle of Darwinism itself thus burning the bridge behind him. As a bonus,
he might even win Pascals Wager.
Next headline on:
The United Nations has plans to make ancient Babylon a tourist attraction.
This International Herald Tribune
article will be of interest to Biblical historians.
...and maybe to prophecy buffs.
Sea Monster Found Under Davy Yones Locker 04/25/2006
Next headline on:
Bible and Theology
The deepest dinosaur bone ever found, a part of a Plateosaurus, has been found by Norwegians
1.4 miles under the North Sea floor. This sets a new depth record for a dinosaur
fossil. According to
Researchers said its quite possible there are many more fossils down there.
More on National
and the BBC.
A four-ton land rover buried in sediment a mile and a half under the
seabed think about it. Does this sound like the setting described in the article:
dry plains with rivers running through them? If the dinosaur lived in that
environment, what happened? Meanwhile, they should look for more down there. What if the
dinosaur fossils we find on the surface represent a tiny fraction of bones buried deep under
the sea, all over the world?
Walking Snake Bites the Dust 04/24/2006
Next headline on:
It must be missing link season. MSNBC
News announced a snake with rudimentary legs. While exciting for evolutionary theory,
it raises questions, too. Snakes were supposed to have evolved in the water, not on
Check out what Ken Ham said on
Answers in Genesis
about this latest salvo. If the snake had legs, does the evolutionary claim have any?
Paper View: Cambrian Explosion Damage Control 04/23/2006
Next headline on:
Like some federal official holding a press conference after a disaster, a Harvard paleontologist
has tackled the unenviable job of explaining what Darwin called the most severe challenge that
could be levied against his theory: the fossil record. The challenge starts with a bang.
Right near the beginning, virtually all animal phyla appear abruptly without ancestors: the so-called
Cambrian explosion. An evolutionist, devoted to a theory expecting to find slow and gradual
change, has no small challenge explaining this event. Its made all the more difficult by critics of evolutionary
theory, like angry reporters asking tough questions, pointing out what the Darwin administration
said vs. what the cameras show. This is no job for a junior spin doctor.
Dr. Charles R. Marshall
has the credentials to be a good press secretary: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Department of Organismic and
Evolutionary Biology, and Department of Invertebrate Paleontology, Museum of Comparative Zoology
at Harvard. Writing in the May issue of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences,1
he gives what amounts to a State of the Cambrian Explosion address. Will he be the
man of the hour, the master of disaster?
Many in the audience have not been happy with
the Darwin administration. As evidence of the need for regime change, they
point to the failure to explain the sudden appearance of virtually all
animal body plans in the Cambrian, the lowest layers of fossil-bearing strata.
Duane Gish and Henry Morris pounded evolutionists on this point in their decades of debates.
It was the subject of Stephen Meyers notorious exposè (09/24/2004)
that made the Darwin administration look like censors. It was one of the
Icons of Evolution defaced by Jonathan Wells.
From the earliest criticisms of Darwins book to the cover of Time magazine in recent
years, Biologys Big Bang has been one of evolutionary theorys biggest embarrassments.
minds want to know; can Darwinian scientists deal with this? Aware
of the opposition (as he must be), will Marshall describe the problem honestly and accurately?
Will his presentation confirm the viability of the ruling partys program? Will the
applause be hearty or tepid? Stepping up to the journal podium, he begins his paper:
The Cambrian explosion, or radiation, is perhaps the most significant evolutionary
transition seen in the fossil record. Essentially all of the readily fossilizable animal
body plans first appear in the fossil record during this interval (Valentine 2002). We
move from the depths of the Precambrian world, where the sedimentary record is
essentially devoid of animal fossils, to the Phanerozoic, where animal life leaves pervasive
evidence of its existence, both as body fossils and as disturbers of the sediment.
And thus he dives right in. One notices right off the bat his habit of putting explosion
in quotes. This is because, while the Cambrian radiation occurred quickly compared with the time
between the Cambrian and the present, it still extended over some 20 million years of the earliest
Cambrian, or longer if you add in the last 30 million years of the Ediacaran and the
entire 55 million year duration of the Cambrian. This attempt to downplay the seriousness of
the damage would surely elicit some boos from the gallery.
One of Marshalls authorities, Dr. James Valentine, whom Marshall admits did a masterly treatment of the origin of
phyla (see 07/29/2004)
said it was 10 million years, or maybe even 5 million, when interviewed for the film
Icons of Evolution.2 But even given
the widest latitude of time, Marshalls own diagram in the paper shows new phyla appearing abruptly
without ancestors at various points within the timeline. Trilobites, for instance, show up at about
525 million years, and no pre-trilobites have ever been found.
Numerous explanations for the Cambrian explosion have been posited (note
here that I am not considering here in any detail explanations for the precursor to the
Cambrian explosion, the Ediacaran radiation). Classification of this rich panoply of
explanations is somewhat arbitrary but typically explanations center on one of the following
factors: (a) changes in the abiotic environment, (b) changes in the genetic or developmental
capacity of the taxa involved, or (c) changes in the biotic environment, i.e.,
in ecology. All of these factors must have played a role, but how important was each?
To what extent did the Cambrian explosion flow from an interaction between them?
How might we develop a conceptual framework for understanding that interaction?
Developing a coherent explanation for the Cambrian explosion faces several
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Marshall provides some background and a timeline of the Cambrian radiation (as it is
also called). He delves into the Precambrian looking for ancestors. He discusses the
strange Ediacaran creatures (see 08/19/2004);
no one is sure, however, if these are even animals, and even
if they were, they seem to have gone extinct before the explosion, without having any relationship to the complex animals
that followed. Marshall portrays a sequence (but not necessarily a phylogeny) of the
explosion in slo-mo. Traces in the rock, first 2-dimensional then 3-dimensional, appear
right before the Cambrian boundary. Next, some small shelly things appear which might be either
new animals or broken bits of molluscs and brachiopods. Then, boom: large, morphologically
diverse taxa. These include the trilobites and echinoderms, and all the wondrously diverse
organisms found in the Chengjiang biota of China. By the time of the Burgess Shale formation
(Canada), less than 10 million years later, the Cambrian explosion is all but spent.
(He forgot to add the quotes that time). Well abbreviate it CE from here on.
Can we trust the fossil record, though? Could the CE just be a selection effect, an artifact of
what animals happened to get fossilized? He seems to agree with Valentine and colleagues (1991) who, in
the only quantitative treatment of the suddenness of the Cambrian explosion, conclude that the
suddenness of the adaptive radiation is real, even when the incompleteness of the fossil and rock records
is taken into account. But he speculates that it is likely that evolutionary lineages
have their origins in rocks older than their first observed occurrences in the fossil record.
The only evidence he offers is that attempts to use molecular clocks to estimate the time
of origin of the animal phyla (what he calls a subtle and difficult art because
different clades may evolve at different rates) have led to
much larger estimates of the incompleteness
of the fossil record (see 04/20/2004). Strangely,
he brings these two conflicting data sets into accord without evidence: first, by asserting
the fact that the divergence times
of lineages (which molecular clocks estimate) may significantly predate the time of
emergence of diagnosable morphologies (which the fossil record estimates), and
second, by stating flatly that all agree
that the phyla have at least some Precambrian history.
Both these assertions assume evolution.
To set up the problem of the Cambrian explosion (quote marks or not), Marshall outlines
the aspects that need explaining:
There are five major components of the Cambrian explosion that need to be explained:
(a) the spectacular increase in animal disparity, (b) the rise in animal diversity,3
(c) why the time of onset of the explosion was some 543–542 mya, (d) why the duration
of the explosion was some tens of million years long, and (e) why the event
Marshall mentions that the CE is not the only spectacular radiation in the record.
He mentions the large increases in diversity in the Ordovician, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic;
there are many other major events in the history of animal life other than the Cambrian
explosion, he reminds the reader. The unique thing about the CE is that all
the later radiations are variations on body plans already established in the Cambrian.
(It is also puzzling why he would point to more explosions to help explain this one.)
There are also two problems that emerge once we begin to examine the fossil
record in some detail: (f) Where are the (largely) missing fossils of the bilaterian
stem-groups, and (g) What are the phylogenetic affinities of the Ediacaran biota?
The remainder of Marshalls paper can be divided roughly into two parts. The first examines
all the proposed explanations for the CE, including their relative strengths in explaining all seven aspects
listed above. These he shows to be inadequate. The second part gives his own personal
explanation. We now summarize part one: here is why, in his opinion, the other explanations
fail in one way or another (although, he suggests, each might contribute partial explanations):
In short, though each might contribute factors, none of these classes of explanation have a total answer
for the Cambrian explosion and its seven puzzles. What they have done, however, is contribute to
our understanding of the necessary preconditions for a valid explanation:
- Environmental Explanations: These look for geological or atmospheric changes
that created environments suitable for change. He says, There has been a resurgence in
this class of explanation, partly owing to increased interest in the Cambrian explosion
within the wider geoscience community. (Who, in particular is interested, and why, is not
In summary, each of these sets the table but doesnt invite the guests.
While it is clear that the environment needs to have been conducive to
the evolution of large animals for the Cambrian explosion to proceed,
he explains, none of the
environmental explanations address why an environment permissive of complex animal
life should necessarily lead to the evolution of complex animal life, and especially
why we should see a shift from diploblastic-grade organisms to complex triploblasts.4
- Increased oxygen? Were oxygen levels too low for large animals?
Probably not. Some Ediacarans were large. Hard to test: we dont
know the minimum oxygen requirements of the first animals, and we dont know how much oxygen
- Snowball Earth? Did biologys big bang after the Earth emerged from a deep
freeze? Unlikely; too early. More importantly, It is also hard to see how a major
environmental catastrophe could have lead [sic] to fundamentally new levels of developmental
and morphological organization.
- Carbon shock? Maybe the Earth underwent some catastrophe at the time,
as suggested by carbon isotope anomalies found at the beginning of the Cambrian. Some compare this
with the presumed extinction of the dinosaurs, followed by the rapid radiation of mammals.
Marshall does not feel this comparison is appropriate. Both dinosaurs and mammals were
vertebrates. The CE, by contrast, saw a dramatic increase in both disparity and diversity.
Worse, even though We have much to understand about such things, this suffers from the
same objection: it is hard to see how a simple (even if large) environmental disturbance
can lead to an increase in disparity.
- Continental shakeup? Maybe polar wanderings of continents caused methane
burps that altered Earths temperature. Same flaw: No explanation is offered
as to why an increase in diversity, per se, should have led to new levels of disparity.
He tries not to be too hard on these suggestions. This remains an intriguing hypothesis, he grants.
- Developmental Explanations: These look for developmental or genetic reasons for the
sudden onset of evolutionary innovation. Marshall mentions a key point: Animals cannot evolve
if the genes for making them are not yet in place.
Like the environmental explanations, this class also comes up short of the dynamite needed for the CE:
- Bilateral Development? While the discovery of Hox genes began a revolution
in our understanding of the genetic basis of morphological form, Marshall admits we still
understand little of how and when the system originated, but perhaps gene duplication was
involved. But here he uses his first exclamation point. Noting that all animal groups share the
same developmental program, we can make inferences about their common origins:
While we only have detailed genetic data from a very few species (the
so-called model systems), the last common ancestor of these species also happens
to be the last common ancestor of all the bilaterian phyla! he announces triumphantly.
This allows us to make quite powerful inferences about the genetic capacities of animals that
lived at the Precambrian/Cambrian transition. Disparate animals may look as different as
apples and oranges on the outside, but are genetically comparable on the inside.
Maybe these developmental programs originated even farther back in time. Time for a reality check:
However, the significance of the presence of these shared genes is still an open
question (Erwin & Davidson 2002). Does the presence of the tinman/NK2.5 gene in
the last common ancestor of the bilaterians indicate the presence of a heart and circulatory
system in that ancestor, or does the gene simply mark a special type of muscle
that was later and independently co-opted to initiate the development of fully developed
circulatory systems in different lineages (Erwin & Davidson 2002)? If the latter
view is correct then there must have been considerable developmental sophistication
on route from the last common ancestor of the bilaterians to the living phyla.
- Code Shuffling? Since genes are combinatorial, like Lego blocks, maybe complexity
can arise as an emergent property (i.e., an unforeseen level of complexity independent
of the building blocks). He refers to Stephen Wolfram, who wrote about this controversial
idea in A New Kind of Science (08/18/2003). More on this later.
- Entrenchment? This is the appealing idea that the first members of a
clade are the most plastic, but later on, they become entrenched (canalized) and resistant to change
Marshall does not think this idea is a winner, either; he thinks it more plausible that
ecological/functional constraints, not entrenchment led to the fossil patterns seen.
The developmental class of explanation, per se, does not address the
question of why the origin of such a system should, ipso facto, lead to increased
diversity or disparity. In fact, if at least one Ediacaran is a bilaterian (Kimberella,
Spriggina, Dickinsonia, or Arkarua, for example), then the bilaterian developmental
system existed at least a few tens of millions of years prior to the Cambrian explosion,
suggesting something more than just developmental innovation might be needed to
account for the explosion.
- Ecological Explanations: Suppose some Precambrian animal develops an eye or a
mouth (trilobites, after all, already had complex eyes) Suddenly, the lucky winner is like
a burglar with a gun in a supermarket. To cope, all the other animals all must develop
defenses, like shells and armor. The world is divided into predators and prey. An evolutionary
arms race is on. Marshall quotes Valentine and others who invented niche space models
(i.e., the pace of evolution is rapid till all available niches fill up), but doesnt feel that these ecological
explanations explain why the CE was unique, or why it lasted as long (or short) as it did.
What does he think of those who suggest that macroscopic eyes and color perception triggered
the CE? Not much; there are other ways to find food, so there almost certainly
would have been some sort of radiation even if large compound eyes had not evolved in the Cambrian.
- Theoretical Explanations: Marshall considers Stewart Kauffmans idea about
fitness landscapes and the emergence of evolutionary innovation: the rate of
evolution dramatically slows as the landscape is explored. So we should expect to
see an explosion, followed by a rapid decline in evolutionary innovations, simply as a
consequence of the time it takes to find progressively more optimal solutions.
Nice math, but we must get real, Marshall reminds us:
The challenge for this class of explanation is understanding how the theoretical
constructs related the real world. In the case of Kauffmans NK models, the roughness
of the landscape is controlled by K, the number of interactions between the N genes.
However, it is difficult to meaningfully assign a value of K to a set of genes, and it is even
more difficult to interpret these landscapes in morphological terms; i.e., the NK
model does not explicitly incorporate the phenotype into the calculation of the fitnesses.
It is clear that the environment must be permissive of animals before they could
have evolved. It is also clear that the genetic machinery for making animals must
have been in place, at least in a rudimentary way, before they could have evolved.
And finally, organisms must be able to leave viable offspring to survive and evolve, so
ecology had to be important too.
Now to the climax. Marshall embarks on a five-page description of his own explanation. Surprisingly, however, he says
very little about actual fossils only one paragraph about where the Ediacaran biota might
fit in. His framework for integrating environmental, ecological and developmental data
is almost completely theoretical. He launches off from Sewell Wrights concept of the fitness landscape,
on which peaks represent higher evolutionary fitness, and valleys lower fitness. Heres a new word for you:
Fitness Landscapes (of the Morphogenetic Kind). Knowing that morpho-
refers to body or structure, and -genetic refers to origin or begetting, is Marshall suggesting
that a fitness landscape can invent a body? Apparently so. Watch carefully:
Following the rich tradition begun by Sewell Wright (1931, 1932), fitness landscapes
provide a fruitful way of thinking about the interaction between developmental potential
and evolutionary success, the ability to pass ones genes on to the next generation.
The coordinate system in most fitness landscapes is based on genes and their alleles.
However, the Cambrian explosion finds its expression in the fossil record morphologically,
so it is more appropriate to use a morphogenetic rather than a genic
coordinate system. Hence, theoretical morphospaces (McGhee 1999), where each
axis of the landscape represents a distinct morphogenetic rule and where the position
along each axis corresponds to a particular variant of the rule, is appropriate here.
Every point in the space corresponds to a unique morphology that arises from the
Marshall seems to be saying that a morphogenetic rule some kind of body-building
principle in nature will automatically give rise to new animals (given a rudimentary
genetic toolkit), just from the existence of needs. In his words, if
we assign a fitness value to a morphology (roughly, a body plan), evolution will
explore the fitness landscape to deliver the body. Not only that, the fitness
landscape itself evolves! Clearly, to Marshall, this is a situation pregnant with possibilities.
He is quick to explain that the fitness landscape metaphor has limitations.
First, movement [in the fitness space] is measured in terms of change in the morphogenetic
rules, several steps removed from the genetic changes that are responsible for those
rules, he explains. That is, there needs to be a connection between the outside
environment and the inside coded instructions. However, we are still profoundly
ignorant of how changes in the genome translate into changes in morphology, despite the
spectacular advances we have made in understanding the genetic basis of morphogenesis.
Somehow, it must happen; the information required to live on the outside must get coded
on the inside. Thats somebody elses problem.
For the remainder of the discussion, Marshall lets computer models work the miracles.
Borrowing on computer models by Karl Niklas, he postulates that, if the fitness landscape can become
roughened (i.e., with more and smaller fitness peaks closer together), interesting things
can happen: increases in diversity and disparity may also be achieved... without the need for
new genes and morphogenetic potentials.
While that thought sinks in, let us ask, what factors can roughen the landscape?
Heres the short answer: the number of needs the organism must satisfy.
Plants, for instance, might need to perform realistic ecological tasks,
including the ability to produce and disperse seeds, harvest light, avoid
mechanical breakage of its branches, and minimize the risk of desiccation through
minimizing its surface area. Necessity is the mother of invention.
If you feel frustrated by this line of argument, Marshall turns that, too, to his
advantage. He introduces the Principle of Frustration a thought so profound,
he says, I have elevated its importance by labeling it a principle. What, you
ask, is the principle of frustration? It captures the notion that different needs
will often have (partially) conflicting solutions, so that the overall optimal design for
an organism will rarely be optimal for any of the specific tasks it needs to perform (i.e.,
there are trade-offs). In other words, its the old engineering principle
of constrained optimality. Consider a laptop computer, for instance.5
A big screen is good, but conflicts with the need for compactness and light weight.
Heavy-duty peripherals are good, but conflict with the need for long battery life.
So in Marshalls context, a plant or animal is going to have conflicting needs
in order to survive, so evolution will explore the fitness landscape, and produce
the morphology that provides the best trade-offs in order to ensure survival.6
The main point Marshall wants to get across is that the rougher the
landscape, the better. Rough landscapes are evolutionary playgrounds. In his words,
The key point is that when all tasks need to be performed, the trade-offs combine to produce
a wide range of local optima, given the rules for making the plants.
Thus, it is frustration that leads to an increase in the roughness of a fitness landscape
as the number of needs increase (Figure 3). While the number of local optima
in a fitness landscape will clearly depend on the specific morphogenetic system (e.g.,
whether we are dealing with plants or animals, etc.) and on the range of environments
that system finds itself in (e.g., terrestrial, aquatic, polar, tropical, etc.), the roughness
of the landscape will also usually depend on the number of needs that must be met,
or tasks that need to be performed.
More small peaks, therefore, yield more diverse and disparate inhabitants sitting on them.
Yet how can a peak, large or small, produce an optimally-engineered creature sitting on top?
The sherpa, the engineer, the innovator, the outfitter, the creator is: EVOLUTION.
That is the hero of the story:
evolution actualizes the body plans that the real world constrains. Is that not echoed in the end of the
Devonian, the period of greatest gross morphological innovation in the terrestrial
invasion by plants? It must be. The Niklas computer model showed it could be so.
The startling possibility is that evolution has found essentially all
the locally optimal ways of being a terrestrial plant (ignoring the fine morphology
associated with leaves, reproductive organs, roots, etc., as well as major modifications
in the way living plants grow and reproduce compared with these early plants), and
that it explored the morphogenetic space in just about one geological period.
The Niklas study opens up the possibility that evolution is able to find essentially
all the locally optimal morphologies consistent with a given underlying developmental
system on geological timescales. That is, all the processes associated with variation
(point mutation, recombination, hybridization, gene conversion, insertion and deletion,
post-transcriptional changes in mRNA processing, etc.) are able to effectively
explore fitness landscapes on geological timescales; evolution is able solve [sic]
the np-hard problem of exploring the rich combinatorial potential embedded
in the genome in the order of 10-20 million years.
What an amazing scout, this evolution. Engineers must be envious.
Marshall has turned the tables. At the end of a difficult speech, begun facing
angry reporters asking tough questions,
he is in control. Viewing the Cambrian explosion in the context
of the evolution of fitness landscapes, he grins, opens up the possibility that uniqueness of the
Cambrian explosion may simply represent the exhaustion of ecologically viable alternatives
that can be generated by the bilaterian developmental system... Simple, isnt it.
Thats all there is to it. Whats the problem?
The reporters are writing as fast as they can to get this down.
Once upon a time, the landscape was filled with fitness peaks, and as they got rougher, evolution
obliged by filling them. Good enough for a sound bite.
But what about information in the genes for these new body plans? asks one mythical reporter.
Where did it come from? No problem, is the confident response; the information was already there: As discussed
above, Marshall continues, the phylogenetic distribution of key developmental genes
in living species suggests that the basic developmental toolkit, a combinatorial toolkit,
for bilaterian animals was already in place prior to the radiation (Carroll et al. 2001),
certainly before the end of the Ediacaran. Take the Lego blocks, sprinkle them onto a roughened landscape,
and the rest is history. (Where the toolkit came from is thus pushed farther back into the past,
as someone elses problem.)
This calls for a new creation myth. Here is the new Genesis or, shall we
say, the Book of MorphoGenesis. Marshall starts
a new paragraph entitled, The Arms Race Roughens the Garden of Ediacara. In the
beginning, there were peace-loving Ediacaran organisms in paradise; innocent and blind, without
knowledge of good and evil. But a time of testing came.
Instead of a Biblical serpent, some generic predator appeared on the scene, and frustration entered
With the advent of ecological interactions between macroscopic adults (especially
interactions associated with predation)... the number of needs each organism had to meet
must have increased markedly: Now there were myriad predators to contend with,
and a myriad number of ways to avoid them, which in turn led to more specialized
ways of predation as different species developed different avoidance strategies, etc.
Even with no changes in the bilaterian developmental system as it existed by the end
of the Ediacaran, the diversity and disparity of animals should have risen sharply,
as the fitness landscape roughened in response to dramatic increase in the level of
frustration (Figure 3). The combinatoric richness already present in the Ediacaran
genome was extracted through the richness of biotic interaction as the Cambrian
explosion unfolded (Marshall 2003).
I offer this as a null hypothesis explanation for the Cambrian explosion.7
In fact, Marshall continues, his model can even offer a prediction, as any
good scientist should. Look east, my young disciple:
It suggests that if we replayed the tape of life, with the
same developmental programs, we would see similar morphologies each time: In the
debate that sprung up across the Atlantic between the importance of contingency
(Gould 1989) and inevitability (Conway Morris 1998, 2003) in the history of life (to
oversimplify the issue somewhat!), perhaps the truth of the matter lies more to the
East than most would be willing to grant.
Exactly how one might test the prediction (replaying the tape of life) is not explained.
Presumably, if there are no planets available for millions of years, one could play SimEarth.
Alas, There are many issues that remain, he ends. How did a rough landscape actually
generate new morphologies? If the principle of frustration worked so well at the Cambrian,
why not at the Ordovician? What controlled the duration of the event? Is it simply
the time it takes evolution to explore the landscape... or does the roughening occur piecemeal...? he
asks. That is, is there a steady dance as the fitness landscapes of each of the major
clades coevolve? And Why does phylum-level innovation die away as the Cambrian
unfolds? Why didnt the explosion occur 100 million years earlier or later?
To a skilled press secretary, these questions are not difficulties; they are opportunities.
In summation, his
last sentence announces, explaining the Cambrian explosion of bilaterian animals
will remain a rich field of enquiry for quite some time to come!
1Charles R. Marshall, Explaining the Cambrian Explosion of Animals,
Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 34 (Volume publication date May 2006)
2It must be noted that the dating methods of evolutionary paleontologists all assume
evolution and long ages. Creation scientists will argue that the dates are fallacious and
falsified by their own research (e.g., see 11/05/2005).
Nevertheless, this writeup will assume the long ages, to give the evolutionists their best possible
conditions for explaining the Cambrian explosion. Even so, Jonathan Wells once remarked that,
in geological terms, the event was so sudden and so brief, it would be like walking a football field and having
all the animal phyla appear when stepping across the 60-yard line.
3Diversity means the number of species, whereas disparity is degree of difference between them.
There may be a great diversity of trilobite species, for instance, but the disparity between a trilobite
and a starfish or a dinosaur is much greater.
4Diploblasts have two organized cell layers, like corals and jellyfish. Triploblasts
have three, with an outer ectoderm, middle mesoderm, and inner entoderm (which includes
the gut). All the complex animals, (also called Bilateria, or
animals with bilateral symmetry), including those appearing in the Cambrian explosion, are triploblasts.
5Jay W. Richards used this analogy in the Q&A extras on the film,
The Privileged Planet, in discussing how the
Earth is optimized for scientific discovery.
6This presumes the neo-Darwinian notion that passing on ones genes
(survival) is a measure of fitness. When defined this way, fitness is a tautology:
not only do the fit survive, whatever survives, by definition, is fit.
7A null hypothesis is a baseline or default explanation, against which other
hypotheses can be measured. A null hypothesis for a new medication, for instance, might
be, this medication has no effect. Its up to an experimenter to
prove that it does, contrary to the null hypothesis.
There is a little word, presto, with two meanings appropriate here. In music, it is a very rapid
tempo. In entertainment, it is a magic word that produces rabbits out of hats and beautiful women out
of gunny sacks stuffed into tiny boxes. Marshall has explained the presto tempo of
the Cambrian explosion with a presto magic act. Discerning readers know it is just a trick.
No Pain, No Gain Explained: Lactic Acid Supercharges Your Engines 04/21/2006
Theists believe God created the world and life, with good reason: the world looks designed.
We must not be misled by the term Cambrian explosion. We think of explosions as accidents
and terror attacks, wreaking havoc and leaving a scene strewn with debris and damage. The CE was the
opposite of this. It was a sudden, explosive appearance of order and complexity, with tissues, organs,
systems and a whole ecology appearing out of nowhere just as would be expected if it had been created.
Duane Gish, the veteran creationist debater, never appealed to religious or Biblical arguments when standing
toe-to-toe with the greatest evolutionists in debates at prestigious universities across America and Europe.
He didnt need to, because the science was on his side. Though he believed in the God of Genesis,
he hammered on two scientific nails that shut the coffin on evolution. He would say,
(1) the law of entropy shows evolution could not happen, and (2) the fossil record shows it did not
Go to the fossil beds and look. Strata do not come with dates on them, labeled 545
million years old. You can go to Mongolia or southern
California and you will find rock layers with
fully-formed, complex trilobites, and nothing underneath. Gish might have believed that the strata are young,
but he could grant his opponents the geological column
and give them the widest possible time latitude in which to work; the conclusion is the same:
the fossil record looks like creation, not like evolution.
Each new animal appears abruptly. There is not enough time in the best of cases
for that much complexity to arise without design. None of the precursors on Marshalls chart,
whether the Ediacaran biota, the trace burrows, or the small shelly animals, are precursors in ancestry.
No matter how much the timeline is stretched, each new body plan appears suddenly, without ancestors.
Face it, evolutionists! This is not what your theory predicts, and no amount of handwaving is going to
make this huge problem go away. To an unbiased observer, it falsifies evolution. Only dogmatic
adherence to a philosophy pushes evolutionists to imagine their theoretical and highly implausible
yarns to explain away the evidence of their senses.
Marshalls elaborate fairy tale shows that the materialists cannot extricate themselves
from miracles. Creationists readily admit that God works miracles, and that the creation was miraculous.
Evolutionists despise miracles, but find them very handy. They shield their miracles in
presto! words, saying such-and-such a complex animal or organ (even eyes!) just
emerged, arose or developed. If you watched carefully, you saw that was exactly what
Marshall did. Though earlier he criticized other explanations for failing to provide an account for
the origin of the genetic information required, he just pushed it offstage, and when needed, had a stage hand
ready to sneak it in the hat, so that he could claim the rabbit was there all along.
His Abracadabra! was the term morphogenetic rule, some kind of unspecified, miracle-working
process that builds complex bodies out of nothing. With that sleight of mind, he distracted the audiences
attention from the fact he had cheated when we werent looking. Rules imply a Rulemaker,
and necessity is the mother of invention only when there are intelligent designers around.
His math is bad, too. Marshall thinks that a simpler combinatorial
genetic system in the invisible ancestors is sufficient to produce eyes and circulatory systems and all
the rest when the landscape roughens. Any kid can try this with a Lego set. Scatter them at
random all over a trampoline, start bouncing, and see what happens. The number of useless combinations
vastly exceeds anything ordered and functional. 5 million years 10 million 20 million
65 million is pitifully insufficient to hope for anything interesting, and the parts themselves are not
sentient beings to care whether they live or die. No amount of time is going to produce robots and tanks
and monsters out of bouncing Lego pieces; but turn a kid loose applying his intelligent design, and you will get all
these things prestissimo, along with a complete ecology in which they interact that he will be
glad to explain to you.
Marshall even had a magic fairy in the act: the evolutionists favorite goddess, Tinker Bell.
Did you catch her brief appearance? Marshall referred to co-option, a synonym for tinkering with
tools and materials that are already there, as a suggestion on how hearts and circulatory systems
developed. He repeatedly spoke of evolution in personal
terms, as if Evolution were some frontier pioneer, capable of exploring the landscape, deciding where to build
a town, then with his toolkit setting up the bank, general store, blacksmith shop and saloon by calling whatever
materials available to order with the word, Presto! With this tale, Marshall gets
diverse trilobites with compound eyes; brachiopods, worms, starfish even chordates and
vertebrates. No matter that each of these animals had many complex tissues and organs and systems with
interrelated parts that had to have existed simultaneously to work. No observational data are
needed in this pagan nature religion. The Spirit of Evolution, guided by Tinker Bell, does the miracles.
If anyone was not convinced before now that Darwin pulled off a massive con job on science,
this should clinch it. He knew about the Cambrian explosion but delegated the solution to the future.
Well, the future is here, and the problem is worse. In place of the holding to the standard of rigorous proof in
science, Darwin introduced the power of imagination, one long argument (aka story) to support his own
personal myth. To back it up, he claimed he was invoking purely natural causes that were rational and
did not depend on a God of the gaps. Well, here you have the result: all he did was replace the
omnipotent, omniscient, all-wise God of creation with Tinker Bell of the gaps, a blind, deaf, dumb, careless fictional
deity that his disciples are free to invoke whenever a miracle is needed to patch up the Big Just-So
Story. Out of this mythology, a hierarchy emerged with a set of traditions that stifles criticism,
keeps the peasants ignorant, and persecutes any perceptive lover of truth able to read the book of
nature without the official interpretation. Its time for a protestant reformation.
Next headline on:
Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory
The old paradigm: lactic acid buildup during exercise is like poison to your muscles, producing stiffness
and agony. The new paradigm: lactic acid is your friend, a fuel additive that helps keep your
mitochondrial motors in top-notch condition. Read all about it in a press release from
What are you waiting for? Its
beautiful outside, life is
good go feel the
burn and bulk up those amazing electrical motors (02/13/2004)
in your mitochondrial power plants. The stronger they get, the
better you will feel
the next time you challenge your body
and explore creation.
The Politics of Darwinism: Dictate, Slander, Block 04/21/2006
Next headline on:
In a state of panic over the rise of intelligent design and creationism, most scientific societies
supporting Darwinism are doing what their opponents feel is doomed to fail: avoiding, at all costs,
a fair and intellectual debate about the evidence. Instead, many pro-Darwin forces issue
prepared statements, misrepresent their opponents,
and use legal maneuvering to try to head them off at the pass.
What they cannot ignore,
however, is that large majorities in the public sector oppose the Darwin-only policy in education.
That means the public also has become a target of abuse. This was obvious 17 months ago with the notorious
National Geographic Nov. 2004 cover story, Was Darwin Wrong? answered inside
with a paternal foot-stomp in bold 250-point type, NO (see 10/24/2004,
Here are some recent examples in that same tactical style that treats the majority public as
hopelessly backward peasants who, in this state of siege, need stern military discipline:
For the most part, critics of Darwinism and proponents of intelligent design have had to use
the non-mainstream media to get their message out. Some recent salvos:
- Royal Edict: The Royal
Society announced in a press release an official statement on evolution, creationism and
intelligent design. The upshot: evolution is well-established and an essential part of
science education; criticism of evolution is criticism of science; you can believe in a creator as
long as you dont call it science; bacterial resistance demonstrates evolution; creationism
is religion and intelligent design is disguised creationism; debate is good in science but undermining
students confidence in science by distorting evidence is not (and that is what creationists
do, by implication); and evolution is an essential part of the rise of a scientific understanding
of the world, whereas anything else is based on faith. (No new weapons, in other words;
just more of the same from the NCSE armory.)
- Hear Ye, Hear Ye: In addition, the Royal
Society published a podcast from Professor Steve Jones. Its title left no room for doubt about
the contents: Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right. Prime arguments:
(1) science is about disbelief, but religion is about faith; (2) while it is true that a majority in the public
distrusts evolution, why do no biologists agree? and, oddly, (3) creationism does more harm to religion than it
does to science.
Randy Boswell reported on these two Royal Society statements on
titling his article, Academic Worry Grows Over Intelligent Design.
- Sound the Alarm: In another of a series of anti-ID attack pieces with not an
inch granted the opposition,
Biology warned about Scientific Illiteracy and the Partisan Takeover of Biology.
Liza Gross associated intelligent design with doubts about stem cell research, doubts about global
warming, and doubts about science in general. Her equation is simple: intelligent design =
scientific illiteracy. Reporting the thoughts and advise of John D. Miller,
she quoted his advice: Scientists need to become involved in partisan politics and to oppose
candidates who reject evolution or attack scientific research implying that the two
go hand in hand. No intelligent design supporter was given two words, but NCSE Director
Eugenie Scott got a big sidebar, complete with big, smiling picture of her. The end of Liza Gross
article included the obligatory disclaimer, The author has declared that no competing interests exist.
- Hold Your Fire: A Parley! A conservative group at Cornell,
the Trumpet, announced rather joyfully that Cornell is going to offer a class on intelligent design
this summer. World Net Daily seemed to
share this optimistic news, and so did the campus IDEA club. William Dembski, however, interviewed
by Agape Press, sees a Trojan Horse.
The teacher, Allen MacNeill, once called Dembski a bald-faced liar, and Cornell president Hunter
Rawlings sternly denounced ID last year
reprint of IDEA Club response). Dembski is certain the class
will have a strong pro-Darwinist bias. His take on Cornells strategy: the academic mainstream ...
is hunkering down, stonewalling, [and] wanting to say theres nothing of merit here, weve got to shut
this down and if were going to teach a course on it, its purely to debunk it.
- And, In This Corner... ?: Evolution
News is waiting for Science magazine to let Michael Behe respond, since last weeks
claim that irreducible complexity had a Darwinian explanation
(04/06/2006) effectively admitted that the concept was scientific.
They seem to know that it will be a long wait. For the expected silence,
Institute provided a stack of reading material on the irreducible complexity argument.
- Pre-Emptive Strike: Remember Frazier Mountain High School? the little rural school
with its little elective Philosophy of Design class that earned international attention when
sued and forced to recant? (see 01/25/2006 story). Well, now
that a local church is planning to rent the town hall this Sunday and show the film
Icons of Evolution, the
Mountain Enterprise local newspaper
published a three-page, multifaceted attack on intelligent design, discounting the credibility of the
teacher highlighted in the film and the Darwinism-discrediting facts presented by Dr. Jonathan Wells.
In a semblance of balanced reporting, they have also kept a list of their running
news stories on the episode,
mostly overtly or covertly biased against intelligent design (such as posting teacher Sharon Lemburgs
initial outline for her elective course, which was never approved or even voted on, and had no bearing
on the class). Whether this pre-emptive strike will accomplish the desired result in this largely
religious and conservative community remains to be seen.
- Wind Talkers: Alan Leshner is so keen on the war correspondence, he must be hearing
things. According to Evolution
News, he heard code language when Oklahoma proposed criticisms of Darwinism in a new
Academic Freedom Act. To the president of the AAAS, exposing students to all sides of the
scientific debate about evolution is really code language for promoting a
narrow religious agenda. A blog by
Selden responds in plain English.
- Quarantine the ID Flu: A press release from the Hunter Valley,
NZ Scoop warned that 2,800 Australian students are at
risk of being infected with the ID that is infiltrating science classes.
An education spokesperson called on federal and state education ministers to withhold
public funding until these schools agreed to quarantine science teaching from religious dogma.
Unless students are isolated from this myth,
there will be appalling consequences: They are at risk of
becoming unemployable in many important areas of the economy where scientific method is essential.
- Battle Tactics Unveiled: Writing in
Joe Manzari and Seth Cooper discussed the tactics of the ACLU to intimidate school boards with lawsuits.
How will this all turn out? Nobody knows, but the lines are clearly drawn.
The tactics of both parties sometimes reveal more than the statements themselves.
- Jews for ID: David Klinghoffer wrote an ID-friendly article for Jews in the
- Getting the Darwinists Goat: Ted Byfield gave his thoughts on Rebutting
Darwinists in two editorials on World
- Truth or Talk: True.origin tries to keep a running
set of scientific responses to Talk.Origins, one of the pro-Darwinist blogs often cited as authoritative by evolutionists.
- Lone Rangers: Individuals can always write letters to the editor (if they will print them).
Heres one by Jonathan Bartlett printed by
answering Alan Leshners attacks against the Oklahoma bill.
- Some Isolated Fair Fights: ID the Future
keeps tabs on the isolated instances of open debates between evolutionists and ID proponents.
- Bias and Anti-Bias: When the mainstream media wont retract their misrepresentations,
Evolution News does it for them.
One of the most intriguing, dynamic and fateful cultural debates in recent
history is taking place before our eyes. No one can afford to be uninformed.
How Evolutionary Science Is Done: From Deduction to Story 04/20/2006
are attempting to corral all non-materialists into a funny farm labeled faith and deny them
any voice in matters of science, truth, reality or history, while their opposition are calling their
bluff and demanding accountability for 150 years of misdirection and deceit. Whos right?
Well, look at the
Darwin Partys behavior. If their case were so strong, they could state it before a crowd of educated,
reasonable people, and easily trounce their opponents. Since they cannot, and have failed to do so for
over a century, all they can do is shore
up their castle walls with the same recycled fluff, surround it with a moat of
fear tactics, catapult out media bombs of
misrepresentations, drug the populace with
hallucinations, and desperately cry for
reinforcements from the ACLU secret police. Inside the castle, where the undecided
cant see the enemy, they decorate King Charless coffin,
as he lies in state, telling the peasants that here lies the Great Leader Who Saved Science.
Now, what does this tell you?
If you need responses to Steve Jones and the other Royalist propaganda, well, keep reading,
and reading, and reading. Weve got over five years of antidotes, and unlike the Darwinist Press,
you get to hear the very best on both sides make their case. The next article is a good place to start.
Next headline on:
Evolution is a fact! Carl Sagan stated emphatically on TV in his 1980 Cosmos
series (now in reruns on The Science Channel). Following this lead, many evolutionists
repeat this four-word phrase, often augmenting it like, Evolution is a fact, like gravity
(see association). This motto has some interesting
properties in its effects on scientific research. Anything that is a fact no longer needs
to be proved. It no longer needs evidence. It can be taken as a given, a first principle
from which other principles can be deduced, and a framework into which all empirical data can be
fitted. Has Charles Darwin become the new Aristotle?
Here are some recent examples of
evolutionary reasoning in scientific journals and science news articles.
Look for instances of deducing conclusions from the premise evolution is a fact.
Also look for reasoning that, since evolution is a fact, it must be capable of accomplishing
any kind of design work found among the worlds amazing living creatures.
Apparently, suggestions are good enough for science these days. It all follows naturally
by deduction from first principles: evolution is a fact.
- Octopus elbows: Noticing that octopuses have an uncanny ability to bend their
boneless tentacles into shapes resembling vertebrate elbows,
says this about how the ability evolved: The presence of similar structural features
and control strategies in articulated limbs (for example, jointed vertebrate arms) and
flexible octopus arms suggests that these qualities have evolved convergently in
octopuses and in vertebrates, and it also suggests that an articulated limb--controlled at the
level of joints--is the optimal solution to the challenge of achieving precise point-to-point
movements by a limb. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The authors of the original paper in Current Biology1 went further.
Despite the evolutionary gap and morphological differences, humans and octopuses
evolved similar strategies when fetching food to the mouth, Sumbre, Hochner et al. said.
They even postulated that this ability arose at the dawn of animals, hundreds of millions of years ago:
Because the hypothetical common ancestor of cephalopods and vertebrates dates back to the
beginning of Cambrian era (about 540 million years ago), fetching appears to be a genuine
and rare case of evolutionary functional convergence, where two independent attributes
(morphology and neural control) coevolved to achieve a common goal. We therefore suggest that
the combination of a kinematically constrained articulated limb and a movement control strategy with
simpler, more stereotypical movements in intrinsic coordinates offers an optimal solution for
achieving precise point-to-point movements.
Commenting on this study in the same issue of Current Biology,2 Scott L. Hooper
explored the idea that function can give rise to form, by evolution. Noting that
muscles predate the evolution of hard body parts, Hooper
evolution into a creative programmer: flexibly creating different skeletons
of stiffened muscles against which other muscles can act may be the mother of all motor control
Science picked up on this line, also, stating that The similarity of structural features
and control strategies between jointed vertebrate arms and flexible octopus limbs suggests
that these configurations evolved separately in octopuses and vertebrates, a result scientists
call an example of convergent evolution. In none of these papers or news articles did any of the authors
attempt to connect function to form by a series of plausible evolutionary steps.
Apparently, they didnt have to since evolution is already a fact.
- Bat digital computing: With their sonar-guided aerial acrobatics, bats are true wonders of
the class Mammalia. The only mammals to fly under their own power, bats make up one fifth
of all mammalian species, said Michael Balter in
But how did they get the ability to fly? Surprisingly, a paper in PNAS3 found a
tale in the absence of evidence:
The earliest fossil bats resemble their modern counterparts in
possessing greatly elongated digits to support the wing membrane,
which is an anatomical hallmark of powered flight. To
quantitatively confirm these similarities, we performed a morphometric
analysis of wing bones from fossil and modern bats. We
found that the lengths of the third, fourth, and fifth digits (the
primary supportive elements of the wing) have remained constant
relative to body size over the last 50 million years. This absence of
transitional forms in the fossil record led us to look elsewhere to
understand bat wing evolution.
Since (of course) evolution is already a fact, no fossil evidence is necessary.
What they looked at were genes for finger development in bats and their presumed cousins,
mice. They found that a common gene for bone growth is activated differently in bats,
causing the digits to grow much more rapidly, but only in the forelimbs.
Together, our results suggest that an
up-regulation of the Bmp pathway is one of the major factors in the
developmental elongation of bat forelimb digits, and it is potentially
a key mechanism in their evolutionary elongation as well.
In this suggestion, no attempt
was made to integrate this into a comprehensive picture of how the membranes developed,
how flight muscles developed, where the avionics software came from, and all the other
parts that would have had to have emerged simultaneously for long fingers to become
tools rather than impediments. Since evolution is a fact, this is not a
problem; each attribute becomes a piece of the grand evolutionary picture, something that
suggests or sheds light on a detail of what is already known to be true.
Michael Balter shamelessly gave his write-up on this paper a
Kipling-esque just-so-story title in
How Bats Got Off the Ground. Calling bats great examples of
Darwinian success, Balter quoted other scientists who called this a
an excellent paper that helps us to understand how evolutionary transformations
are achieved by tinkering with the development of individual structures--in
this case, the digits.
- The purpose-driven bird: Darwinists have often claimed that humans have evolved
to the point where they can now take charge of their own evolution. But can birds do this?
Thats a new line promoted by
Katherine Unger on Science Now,
a news service of the AAAS. Species need not sit around waiting for natural selection
to shape them, she said. According to a new study, a creatures
personality can also be an important evolutionary driving force--one that may give the species
some control over its own destiny. The study, described in PNAS,
showed how some bluebirds can alter their habitats and foraging behaviors based on how aggressive
some members get (see also EurekAlert
summary). The odd thing is that no evolution occurred before or after the study; the bluebirds
were still bluebirds. The key finding was merely a suggestion:
By selecting the environment in which they live, animals can actively affect the
natural selection they experience. Evolution by natural selection is, of course, the fact
that (by implication) produced the bluebirds in the first place.
Cornelius Hunter, writing for ID
the Future, has found this reaction to be common in his experience debating evolutionists.
Evolution is a fact is their knee-jerk reply, with the inevitable comparison to gravity
(an association Hunter calls absurd). As the old saying goes, it is not what a man doesnt
know that worries me, he quipped, but what he knows for sure. He continued,
The evolution is a fact claim is awkward for evolutionists.
It makes the man behind the curtain all the more obvious and is empirically unsupportable.
How should evolutionists respond when a savvy buyer starts kicking the tires and asks
Why is this a fact again?....
Hunter calls this an unfortunate trend in science. Lets reverse it and
seriously engage the issues at hand.
The dual mandates that (i) science must adhere to methodological naturalism and (ii)
evolution is a fact, serve to diminish the importance of the empirical data.
Monumental evidential problems become mere curiosities when the theory is beyond question.
1Sumbre, Hochner et al., Octopuses Use a Human-like Strategy to Control Precise
Point-to-Point Arm Movements,
Biology, Vol 16, 767-772, 18 April 2006.
2Scott L. Hooper, Dispatch: Motor Control: The Importance of Stiffness,
Biology, Vol 16, R283-R285, 18 April 2006.
3Sears et al., Development of bat flight: Morphologic and molecular evolution
of bat wing digits,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA, 10.1073/pnas.0509716103, published online before print April 17, 2006.
Were going to keep holding up this garbage to public view
as we have for over five years now, to expose Darwinian research for what it is: institutionalized
question begging, assuming
what needs to be proved, making up tall tales in the absence of evidence, ascribing exquisite
design to dumb processes of randomness, and murdering
Baconian scientific rigor. Once the Darwin
Party came to power, they dumbed down the high standards of research, substituted bravado
for caution, and brought in the dark ages of speculative
biology where facts and data dont matter any more. The highest value now is
keeping the story line begun by Pope Charlie going ad infinitum. The usurping Darwin Party elitists
not only lounge around, engaging one another in tantalizing speculations
in the institutions once devoted to induction and proof, but then have the gall to condemn anyone
who calls them on the carpet for their shenanigans.
Ethiopian Missing Link: Location, Location, Location
04/19/2006 (Guest article)
Let this awareness promote a new day in science, where conclusions are rare,
where suggestions are criticized, where evidence is king, and no principle based on
human authority becomes a premise for deduction i.e., like it used to be when men and women who
loved nature and loved the truth (predominantly Christians and creationists see
online book) explored nature as seeking out the wisdom of God.
Disallowing deduction and reinstating rigor might not cure the hard-core Darwinian materialists,
but it would go a long way in clearing the fog away from the debate.
Next headline on:
The Associated Press reported
that a new fossil discovery proves the link between two ancestral species of man, and shows
the change happening right before our eyes:
Fossils have long provided snapshots of the human family tree, but a new find in Africa gives scientists
a kind of mini home movie showing mans primal development.
So what did they actually find? Not a missing link or an intermediate form, but just another
Australopithecus anamensis fossil, but in a location intermediate in the rock layers between
Australopithecus and its supposed ancestor Ardipithecus:
Because the 4.2-million-year-old fossil is from the same human ancestral hot spot in Ethiopia
as remains from seven other human-like species, scientists can now fill in the gaps for the most complete
evolutionary chain so far.
We just found the chain of evolution, the continuity through time, said Ethiopian
anthropologist Berhane Asfaw, co-author of the study being reported Thursday in the journal Nature.
One form evolved to another. This is evidence of evolution in one place through time.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The species, Australopithecus anamensis is not new, but its location is what helps explain the giant leap
from one early phase of human-like development to the next, scientists say. All eight species were found in a
region called the Middle Awash.
Finally we get to the fine print and disclaimers. It turns out they arent so sure as the headline
would like you to believe:
Its like 12 frames of a home movie, but a home movie covering 6 million years,
said study lead author Tim White, co-director of Human Evolution Research Center at University of California at
Berkeley. Fossils in the region cover three major phases of human development.
The key here is the sequences, White said. Its about a mile
thickness of rocks in the Middle Awash and in it we can see all three phases of human evolution.
Modern man belongs to the genus Homo, which is a subgroup in the family of hominids. What
evolved into Homo was likely the genus Australopithecus (once called man-ape), which includes
the famed 3.2 million-year-old Lucy fossil found three decades ago.
A key candidate for the genus that evolved into Australopithecus is called Ardipithecus.
And Thursdays finding is important in bridging but not completely the gap
between Australopithecus and Ardipithecus.
In 1994, a 4.4 million-year-old partial skeleton of the species Ardipithecus ramidus
the most recent Ardipithecus species was found about six miles from the latest discovery.
This appears to be the link between Australopithecus and Ardipithecus as two different
species, White said. The major noticeable difference between the phases of man can be seen in
Australopithecus bigger chewing teeth to eat harder food, he said.
While its looking more likely, it is not a sure thing that Ardipithecus evolved into
Australopithecus, he said. The finding does not completely rule out Ardipithecus dying off as a
genus and Australopithecus developing independently.
This story was widely circulated in newspapers.
The connections between Ardipithecus and Australopithecus have been theorized since an
anamensis fossil was first found in Kenya 11 years ago. This draws the lines better, said Alan Walker
of Penn State University, who found the first anamensis and is not part of Whites team.
Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian Institutions Human Origins Program, agreed:
For those people who are tied up in doing the whole human family tree, being able to connect the
branches is a very important thing to do.
In yet another example of circular reasoning, White and team have assumed
evolution, fit the data to the evolutionary just so story, and paraded the result as proof that
evolution happened. Evolutionists are so desperate to deal with the lack of intermediate fossils that
now the location of a fossil qualifies it as somehow being intermediate. Arranging fossils in some
increasing order of complexity to prove evolution has been around for a long time, for example, the horse
evolution series, but it doesnt prove that evolution happened any more than arranging old cars in a
junkyard in order of complexity proves they evolved.
Step Aside, T. Rex: Bigger Dino Found 04/19/2006
For an analysis of the human fossil data from a different worldview, read Marvin Lubenows
classic book, Bones of Contention, available from
has an excellent video critically analyzing the Lucy fossil,
Lucy, Shes No Lady, by Dr. David Menton.
Next headline on:
A cache of dinosaur bones, meat-eaters bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex, has been
uncovered in South America. National
Geographic News says the new species, Mapusaurus, exceeded the former heavyweight
carnivore in size and agility. All the bones in a river deposit were 100% from this one
species, so the chances they had been deposited randomly are extremely low, said
Rudolfo Coria, the discoverer. The skeletons showed no signs of disease, Coria says,
so the animals were apparently victims of some sudden catastrophic event.
The article says that even larger creatures may remain to be discovered.
See also MSNBC News, which has
What would bury a group of heavy, agile, strong,
mobile, intelligent monsters suddenly? Think about it.
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: Scientists, Learn Darwinism on TV
Next headline on:
In Current Biology, Kenneth E. Sawin of Wellcome Trust Center for Cell Biology at Edinburgh
University was interviewed about his career. One of the questions was,
What are the big ideas for you now? Here is part of his answer:
Another thing that I think about, which may be more ethereal, is that cell biologists interested in
molecular mechanisms should always be reminding themselves that evolution proceeds without any
predestined direction, and this is as true for cellular regulatory mechanisms as it is for
organismal evolution [sic]. Even if we dont think too much about evolution in our
day-to-day work, it is the backdrop against which everything takes place, and one needs to keep
a very open mind [sic], and not be too dogmatic, about how biological systems may
be designed, because there is no designer [sic]. The best stimulus for this
is to watch a few nature programs on TV.
1Q&A: Kenneth E. Sawin,
Biology, Vol 16, R268-R269, 18 April 2006.
If anyone can figure out how being dogmatic about evolution is
an example of open-mindedness, or how directionlessness produced cellular regulatory mechanisms,
or how maintaining faith in purposelessness as a backdrop aids thinking,
or how telling oneself there is no designer demonstrates things are not designed, let us know.
Notice two other things he said: (1) scientists dont think too much about evolution in their
day-to-day work, indicating that evolutionary theory is useless, and (2) TV is this
evolutionists source of inspiration (see visualization
in the Baloney Detector). So producers get their stimulus from the dogmatic
claims of the evolutionary biologists, and biologists in turn get their inspiration from
watching the resulting TV shows: a vicious cycle, with emphasis on vicious.
Astrobiology Ten Years Later: Can It Justify Its Funding?
night The Science Channel replayed The Rise of Man, one of the dumbest examples of
evolutionary storytelling ever made for the tube. In this ridiculous portrayal of made-up history,
presented in all seriousness,
naked ape-faced actors invent religion when lightning strikes, invent language when stealing ostrich eggs,
invent the family when she-ape needs help in childbirth, and invent art when one ape-man
sticks a shiny stone on his females mud-plastered forehead. The group all giggles in the
mud together at this new sign of beauty. If this is Sawins inspiration, God help him.
Cave Man was much better. At least Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach and John Matuszak
all knew it was only a spoof. Lets offer Sawin and his ilk free unending reruns of all the
evolution shows they want; maybe this will keep them in a permanent state of euphoria and out of the classroom.
Next headline on:
Astrobiology just turned ten years old, but is experiencing growing pains, partly due to a
starvation diet. This science without a subject (as George Gaylord Simpson
quipped about its predecessor, exobiology) is struggling to justify itself at the Congressional
feeding trough. Proponents tout it as the most important subject in the universe.
Why, then, is Congress cutting back its rations?
Astrobiology was born virtually in a day. When a NASA press
conference in 1996 announced the possibility of fossil organisms in a Martian meteorite,
the media fervor launched speculation into action.
President Clinton appointed Vice President Al Gore to hold a space conference to discuss
its implications. A preliminary astrobiology study group was formed at NASA-Ames Research
Center, which became formalized as the NASA Astrobiology Institute in 1998 (see
NAI Timeline). Grants were
awarded to 11 research centers for research into the scientific study of life in the
universe its origin, evolution, distribution, and future (see
NAI). As funding for this new
science continued, astrobiology websites, magazines, TV programs, conferences and projects
have kept this new field in the public awareness. In a sense, this was a pragmatic move
to ride a wave of public interest and centralize existing but disparate programs. Nature1
said, the field was cooked up, in part, out of political necessity, as a means
of bundling together research programmes on exobiology, other life sciences and planetary science
(emphasis added in all quotes).
Following a late 20th century trend for scientists to collaborate in cross-disciplinary endeavors,
astrobiology became an umbrella term for chemists, biologists, astronomers and physicists
interested in exploring possibilities of life beyond earth. The fact that no life
has been found yet is only incidental to the story. To astrobiologists, the field
encompasses stellar evolution, planet formation, the search for water on other worlds, chemical evolution,
hydrothermal vents, extremophiles, life detection methods, detection of extrasolar planets, and much more
even the birth and eventual fate of the universe, subjects once the domain of philosophy and religion.
Though SETI was specifically excluded from government funding (it continues through private sources),
any research program tied into astrobiology goals, even in a peripheral way, could apply for
the grant money.
This year, NASA threatened to cut the $65 million astrobiology budget in half.
In a nation overspent on hurricane relief and the war on terror, NASA director
Michael Griffin faced hard choices.
Squeezed by the cost of the International Space Station, recovery of the Shuttle program
after the Columbia disaster and the pressure for a new human launch vehicle (the CEV), he
distributed much of the pain to the NASA science budget, with astrobiology low on the priority list.
The response was swift and strident. Scientific institutions, academics, and even private space advocacy
groups like the Planetary Society
and the SETI
Institute joined in condemning the reductions. Tempers eased slightly when NASA restored
half the projected cuts, but new astrobiology projects are likely to be unfunded. Scientists
are still irate and demanding their money back.
Meanwhile, some of the findings discussed at the NASA Astrobiology Conference March 26-30
in Washington, DC were not all that encouraging. The media had made a big deal about possible
water on Enceladus last year. The L word (life) was usually not far behind. As reported by
Richard A. Kerr in Science,2 however, the just-add-hot-water recipe may be unrealistic.
George Cody warned that deep-sea hot springs couldnt have produced all of the necessary
components, Kerr reported. Instead, the final assembly [sic; implies design] of
molecules leading to life [sic; implies progress] must have happened somewhere between deep-sea vents,
warm little ponds [an allusion to Darwin], and any number of other chemical stew pots.
Cody found that, while some ingredients might be catalyzed by hydrothermal vents, the rest of the
cooking had to happen elsewhere: Worst of all, important sugars and nucleobases fall apart
under hydrothermal conditions. Astrobiologists are trying a new approach: think globally, act locally
Submarine hot springs no doubt could have played a role in brewing the primordial soup that gave rise to life
[sic], Cody said, but other environments must have contributed too. If I said it all happened in
hydrothermal vents, that wont move this field ahead, he says. Thinking more globally
could open up something. Perhaps the real action came along continental margins, he said.
There, prebiotic compounds from deep-sea vents rose to meet drainage from the lands warm little ponds and
fallout from atmospheric reactions triggered by lightning and sunlight. This is a very good [sic] approach,
quite novel, says organic chemist Vera Kolb of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. People
get bogged down with the particular conditions theyre studying, but he wasnt pushing his own work.
Since Europa and Enceladus were both recently advertised as targets for life detection, it may not be
politically opportune at this time to mention such things to Congress.
Such a global origin scenario, however, would make it less likely that life arose
elsewhere in the solar system, Cody says. The subsurface oceans on the icy moons Europa and Enceladus
might not have offered the required diversity of environments. And Mars may not have had even a
1Editorial, Astrobiology at Ten,
440, 582 (30 March 2006) | doi:10.1038/440582a.
2Richard A. Kerr, ASTROBIOLOGY SCIENCE CONFERENCE 2006:
Diversity Before Life,
14 April 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5771, p. 179; DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5771.179b.
There is nothing wrong with asking big questions. What is life?
What are the requirements for life? How can we detect life? When asking big questions,
it makes good sense to get input from a variety of disciplines. Astrobiology, however, has big
problems passing itself off as science that deserves public funding.
How Much Can a Cell Do Without?
For one, it assumes evolution before allowing the evidence to speak. If there is water, there
must be life. If there are organic compounds, they must evolve into more complex ones.
While it may be true that a substantial number of stars have planets, and that some of those will
fall within the temperature range where water can exist as a liquid, thinking that life will necessarily emerge
has no scientific support. (Claiming it evolved here is circular
reasoning since the alternative is that it was designed.) Asking big questions and taking
a position without scientific support is tantamount to religion, and imposes a state-funded
religious view on a public, the majority of which does not accept evolution.
Another problem is that astro- has nothing to do with -biology. Astrobiology is a
made-up term, a chimera, a bizarre juxtaposition of concepts like decadent fudge or sexy V6 that is
more marketing than substance. Invent a racy term like astrobiology, and you instantly convey
images about things of which we have no knowledge, and that may not exist.
Yet it gives artists fodder for portraying DNA molecules unwinding out of Hubble astrophotos.
One might retort that we have astrochemistry and astrophysics but these are natural subjects
for lifeless stars. We have biochemistry and biophysics, but these are natural to Earth, the one place
we know has life. So far as we know, biology and astronomy have no necessary or demonstrable connection.
There are organic molecules in space, and there are planets, and there is probably water, but none
of these conditions are sufficient for life. Put a planet together with water and carbon,
and you may get only dark mud.
But, someone will object, how can we find out, unless we search? OK, get in line. Make a presentation,
show your criteria, provide a budget and time limit, and make your case to Congress through elected representatives.
Perhaps you can sell the public on funding it for a little while, subject to other funding priorities.
But astrobiology has become an open-ended program that could never be exhausted, no matter
how many targets are investigated. If we dont find it on Mars, lets look on Europa,
then Titan, then Enceladus, then other stars, and on and on forever. Worse, astrobiology was launched on news
of possible life in a Martian meteorite that, in retrospect, looks deeply flawed. Some get the impression the
announcement had ulterior motives. Now that the search is on, though, what are the criteria for failure?
Would committed astrobiologists ever admit defeat? If not, then it is religion, not science.
The scientific elite want complete independence from political influence on their spending habits, and
become irate when the president or Congress dictate scientific priorities.
They think they alone know what is good for science. But just like all citizens, scientists
need accountability. As Steven L. Goldman (Lehigh U) said in a lecture series on 20th century science for
The Teaching Company,
Science has definitively lost its innocence. The claim that we are generating value-neutral,
objective knowledge is hollow. Scientists may continue to believe it, but from a social
perspective, the pursuit of knowledge even of abstract scientific knowledge is firmly
embedded in social institutions and social expectations. Science has been delighted to take this
public support (and especially the public funding) and the organization of public institutions to
allow scientists to do research take that money and support, because the public perceives that
science is a source of technological blessing. But the flip side is that when there are curses,
science is going to have to suffer that as well.
Another problem with astrobiology is the implied expectation that the public should fund it.
Why? What national interest is served? The public has a right to expect that either
national security, health, prosperity or international prestige will be enhanced by the expenditure of its
tax dollars. Unquestionably, astrobiology is driving some interesting technology, such as miniaturization of biological
detectors. Astrobiologists can tout any number of spin-off technologies from its projects, but these
beg the question whether those same technologies would not have emerged from other programs, such as
medical or military research, or even from private enterprise. Not every interesting question
has the expectation of public funding. For better or worse, Congress in 1994 decided that
a superconducting supercollider was not worth $10 billion just because some particle physicists were interested
to find out if the Higgs boson exists (as required by current big bang models).
The existence of life is arguably a more entrancing question, but it
does not follow that the public should pay to answer it.
(Lecture 36, excerpt)
A rejoinder might be that such projects cost too much for anything but the government largesse.
(This forgets that government is of, by, and for the people.) Why so? The Mt. Wilson and
Palomar telescopes were privately funded, and so is SETI (once Proxmire laughed it out of Congress;
in fact, SETI has rather flourished under private sponsorship).
There are billionaires like Paul Allen, who just funded the Allen Telescope Array for the SETI Institute,
and there are corporations, foundations and university alumni that can pitch in if scientists
can sell them on the need for their particular astrobiology projects. If this is not satisfactory,
let them think creatively; sell Congress on a Mars or Europa mission for other priorities, and let private
sources fund the astrobiology investigations as ride-alongs. Or, build better life detectors for use on
the battlefield, and adapt them for use in space.
Did you know that federal funding for US science is a relatively recent phenomenon?
In the 19th century, the government steadfastly refused to pay a dime for the AAAS, the NSF, the Smithsonian
and other science organizations they had to solicit funds from donors. In Britain, also, members of the Royal
Society and Royal Institution both had to pay their own way via sponsorships and special public events.
France had its crown-funded Academy of Sciences, but the elite scientists were subject to the kings bidding.
Only after World War II, largely
through the efforts of Vannevar Bush convincing the federal government that it needed technology
for national defense, did federal funding of basic research become the norm. Still, each
expenditure needs to be justified to the people who pay the bills. How will astrobiology
aid the poor family on the farm in Arkansas, or victims of the latest natural disaster? How will it
protect our freedoms? Furthermore, as we have seen with the National Endowment for the Arts, FEMA, and the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting, public funding does not always produce excellence. Maybe private funding would
stimulate higher standards for astrobiology. These considerations undercut the alarms raised by scientists
that funding cuts to astrobiology will necessarily reduce US scientific leadership in the world.
Of course, it is demoralizing and counterproductive for government to cut back on already-approved
programs. Congress should keep its word. Once a program starts, it involves careers and livelihoods
and plans for potentially many people. Finishing a job usually provides more knowledge than cancelling
one program for something better. That alone, however, does not justify an endless funding stream.
Each program needs to earn its wings every day. The public has a right to know what they are getting
for their dollars, even when, like with NASA science, the outlays are a small fraction of the federal budget.
Justifications for research programs do not need to be merely pragmatic.
The Apollo program, for instance, was immensely rewarding for national prestige during the cold war,
and contributed to world peace when Americans and Russians collaborated on Skylab. Space exploration continues
to uphold Americas image of scientific leadership in the world (e.g., Mars rovers, Cassini). What, though, is
astrobiologys marketing line? Finding the answer to big questions like the presence of life in space would
be no doubt interesting for philosophy, but how does one justify public funds in addressing the
question? Think of great conceptual leaps that were
made without government funding: relativity, the expansion of the universe, MRI the list would
be long. Why should not astrobiology, like SETI, pay its own way? Why does it have to cost
tens of millions of dollars? We have material from space sitting at our feet waiting to be examined
meteorites from Mars even and plenty of environments on Earth where scientists could get assistance
from universities, corporations and foundations. Existing telescopes are well equipped for much of
the needed research. Scientists throughout history have been inventive
and productive without banging their crutches on the trough of public funding
Until and unless astronomy and biology get
married, the folks at home dont have to keep funding the wedding plans year after year
especially when they are not convinced the two were made for each other.
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
In an old high school game, the leader would call some unsuspecting boy to the front, put a sheet
over him, and say, Take off what you dont need. Perhaps a shoe would
emerge from under the sheet. Take off something else you dont need, the
leader would continue, and the volume of giggling in the room would rise as socks, a shirt, and whatever
would emerge from under the covers. If the young person was smart, he would realize the only thing he
didnt need was the sheet itself.
Scientists play this game in a more sophisticated manner with cells, in a process called
gene knockout. The idea is to disable a gene or protein and see what happens. They can also
overexpress the gene, or mutate it, for additional data. If the cell
gets by just fine, it must have been a nonessential part. Usually, however, something terrible
happens, even when the gene or protein was previously unknown. Here are just a couple of examples
from todays PNAS:
These papers are just two out of a growing body of knockout experiments that find out, by examining the wreckage, that theres not much
a cell doesnt need.
- Power Plant Sabotage: Scientists from Michigan State1 studied FZO, dynamin-related
membrane-remodeling protein that mediates fusion between mitochondrial outer membranes in animals and fungi.
In the model plant Arabidopsis, they knocked out the plant-specific member of the dynamin superfamily, FZL.
This protein targets to the thylakoid membrane of the chloroplasts, the light-harvesting power plants of plants.
Heres what happened:
fzl knockout mutants have abnormalities in chloroplast and thylakoid morphology, including
disorganized grana stacks and alterations in the relative proportions of grana and stroma thylakoids.
Overexpression of FZL-GFP also conferred defects in thylakoid organization.
Mutation of a conserved residue in the predicted FZL GTPase domain abolished both the punctate localization pattern
and ability of FZL-GFP to complement the fzl mutant phenotype. FZL defines a new protein class within the
dynamin superfamily of membrane-remodeling GTPases that regulates organization of the thylakoid network in plants.
Notably, FZL levels do not affect mitochondrial morphology or ultrastructure, suggesting that mitochondrial
morphology in plants is regulated by an FZO-independent mechanism.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
This means that this specific protein was essential for just the thylakoid membrane inner structure, and there must be another
essential mechanism affecting the overlying structure. (Note: the capitalized acronym, FZL, refers to the
protein, while the italicized lower-case acronym fzl refers to the gene that codes for it.) They
found that mutating or deleting the gene causes disaster but so does overexpressing it. This means
that not only is FZL a key player, but the activity of its gene fzl must be regulated by something else.
- Centrosome Attack: Mitosis, or cell division, has been studied for many decades, but now
another essential player has been identified. Scientists from Japan and Pennsylvania2 describe
what happened when they played take off what you dont need with a centrosome protein named Su48:
The centrosome functions as the major microtubule-organizing center and plays a vital role in
guiding chromosome segregation during mitosis. Centrosome abnormalities are frequently seen in a variety of cancers,
suggesting that dysfunction of this organelle may contribute to malignant transformation. In our efforts to
identify the protein components of the centrosome and to understand the structure features involved in the
assembly and functions of this organelle, we cloned and characterized a centrosome-associated protein called Su48.
We found that a coiled coil-containing subdomain of Su48 was both sufficient and required for its centrosome
localization. In addition, this structure also modulates Su48 dimerization. Moreover, ectopic
expression of Su48 causes abnormal mitosis, and a mutant form of Su48 disrupts the localization
of gamma-tubulin to the centrosome. Finally, by microinjection of an anti-Su48 antibody, we found that
disruption of normal Su48 functions leads to mitotic failure, possibly due to centrosome defects or
incomplete cytokinesis. Thus, Su48 represents a previously unrecognized centrosome protein that is essential
for cell division. We speculate that Su48 abnormalities may cause aberrant chromosome segregation
and may contribute to aneuploidy and malignant transformation.
1Gao et al., FZL, an FZO-like protein in plants, is a determinant of thylakoid and chloroplast morphology,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA, 10.1073/pnas.0507287103, published online before print April 14, 2006.
2Wang et al., Characterization of Su48, a centrosome protein essential for cell division,
Consider the problem this poses for neo-Darwinism.
Natural Selection depends on unfailing cell division and not just any splitting of a cell
into parts somewhere and somehow, but on the formation of highly accurate daughter copies of germline cells.
This is because (according to theory) only the daughter cells can preserve any beneficial variations produced by accident in the
parent cell. Otherwise, evolution comes to a sudden stop (see online book).
Paleoanthropologists Announce the Middle Man 04/12/2006
As revealed in the last century, cell division is a highly complex process with numerous
players, all of which have vital functions. Scientists apparently did not even know about Su48, but without it,
cell division doesnt work. So here is another extra in the play, like a nameless stage hand,
without whom its curtains for the Darwin show.
In the first article, plants (and animals, with their mitochondrial power plants), cannot
harvest light without FZL. The sweeping dioramas of evolutionary history that festoon museums and
TV shows show photosynthesis and mitochondira just popping into existence (the Popeye theory of evolution,
05/31/2005; see also 03/31/2006 example), without any
consideration of where to find all these essential players. Weve only provided two or three
examples here; there are thousands. And when you consider that the blind invention of
even one protein is astronomically improbable (see online book), cell biologists
had better throw off the Charlie sheet before their embarrassment reaches the ultimate.
Next headline on:
In unison, the news media joined the most recent chorus over alleged fossil human
ancestors: Fossil find improves knowledge of human origins
Fossils fill gap in human lineage,
Ancient fossils fill gap in early human evolution
Fossil discovery fills gap in human evolution
(MSNBC News, which adds,
We just found the chain of evolution, the continuity through time);
Fossils clinch identity of Lucys Ancestor
and the press release from
where Tim White, one of the discoverers, hails from, which calls the Middle Awash in Ethiopia
the worlds best window on human evolution.
The claim is that the
Ethiopian fragments of Australopithecus amarensis lie between its alleged
predecessor Ardipithecus and the successor Australopithecus afarensis
(a.k.a. Lucy). That makes this fossil somewhat of a Middle Awash man.
Veteran readers of these pages know the song and dance
well enough not to give this more than a yawn. Do these few fragmentary bones
and teeth fill in any gaps? John Hawks, a pro-evolution paleoanthropologist
of Wisconsin-Madison doesnt think so; he said, The finding of Au. anamensis
within the already-known time range of Au. anamensis means that the new fossils havent
really added much to the question of phylogenetic diversity in early hominids.
In other words, its like claiming, we found a fossil trilobite within the
range of fossil trilobites! This sheds new light on trilobite evolution and closes
a gap in our knowledge!
Few Mutational Pathways Lead to Darwinian Evolution 04/12/2006
Ann Gibbons in the Science article quotes Tim
White as claiming that testing these hypotheses will require additional fossils from other sites
and Meave Leakey saying, I dont think that the published evidence shows
[the link between A. ramidus and A. anamensis] very convincingly,
Gibbons advises, stay tuned. As with Tiktaalik
(04/06/2006), the most important missing links lie buried in the future.
All three alleged hominoid species
are members of extinct ape families, anyway, and have nothing
to do with human ancestry. Only wishful thinking and allegiance to Charlie ties
these fragments to his icon of the descent of man
As Jerry Bergman documented in a recent article for
the CRS, the field of
evolutionary paleoanthropology is filled with rivalry, contradiction, deception, exaggeration
and outright fraud. Too bad the news media are all dupes; they think this is
science instead of mud wrestling.
Next headline on:
Mutations may not be as helpful for neo-Darwinian evolution as expected, say researchers
Lets say five mutations need to occur for a bacterium to gain resistance to
an antibiotic, and there are 120 ways to get these mutations. They found that only
about 10 of the pathways could be selected by natural selection. Since natural
selection would have to confer better fitness at each step, most of the pathways are
Although the team studied only one particular kind of resistance,
this finding likely applies to most protein evolution, they said.
Although many mutational paths lead to favored variants, only a very small fraction
are likely to result in continuously improved fitness and therefore be relevant to the
process of natural selection.
See also Science
The original paper was published in Science.1 The abstract states:
Five point mutations in a particular beta-lactamase allele jointly increase bacterial resistance
to a clinically important antibiotic by a factor of 100,000. In principle, evolution
to this high-resistance beta-lactamase might follow any of the 120 mutational trajectories
linking these alleles. However, we demonstrate that 102 trajectories are
inaccessible to Darwinian selection and that many of the remaining trajectories have negligible
probabilities of realization, because four of these five mutations fail to increase drug
resistance in some combinations. Pervasive biophysical pleiotropy [i.e., one modification
causing a cascade of effects] within the
beta-lactamase seems to be responsible, and because such pleiotropy appears to be a general property
of missense mutations, we conclude that much protein evolution will be similarly constrained.
This implies that the protein tape of life [sic] may be largely reproducible and even predictable.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The last sentence about what
this implies is purely a speculation. They elaborate slightly in the last sentence of the
paper: It now appears that intramolecular interactions render many mutational trajectories
selectively inaccessible, which implies that replaying the protein tape of life might be
surprisingly repetitive. It remains to be seen whether intermolecular interactions
similarly constrain Darwinian evolution at larger scales of biological organization.
If those larger scales are random and require multiple steps, it would seem the same principle applies.
1Weinreich et al., Darwinian Evolution Can Follow Only Very Few Mutational Paths to Fitter Proteins,
7 April 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5770, pp. 111-114, DOI: 10.1126/science.1123539.
It wasnt going to work anyway, so this just
makes it harder. They aret talking about adding new genetic information
or function, but rather losing function (susceptibility to the antiobiotic) in such a
manner that each stage doesnt kill all of the organisms in one fell swoop.
If this principle applies, as they suggested, to larger scales of biological organization,
then the neo-Darwinian gig is, for all practical purposes, over. Try getting a
whale from a cow against these kinds of constraints. This makes the protein
tape of life predictable? In whose Tinker Bell tale?
Isolated DNA Bases Are Destroyed Quickly 04/11/2006
Next headline on:
Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory
Without water, DNA bases fall apart quickly. Any origin-of-life models expecting
the building blocks of DNA (nucleotides) to stick around for long are going to suffer,
say researchers from Oregon
State University. The molecules can enter a dark state in which they
are highly vulnerable to UV radiation. This idea was once considered scientific heresy
so much so that the researchers had a lot of sleepless nights defending the idea from
The core of the debate, [Wei] Kong [professor of chemistry] said, relates to the behavior of the nucleic acid bases
adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine which as A-T and G-C base pairs form DNA and
ultimately become the blueprint for all living things. One of the most basic premises of
biochemistry is that these nucleic acid bases are very stable, as they would have to be to
prevent rampant mutations and make an organized genetic structure possible.
Isolated DNA bases, in other words, do not have the stability scientists thought they did.
They are extremely vulnerable to UV damage for short periods:
But studies at OSU, which were done with highly sophisticated electron spectroscopy,
showed that the alleged stability of the nucleic acid bases in DNA is largely a myth.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The lifetime of the dark state is not long a nanosecond is one billionth of a second.
But its more than enough time for DNA mutations to happen, Kong said. And the existence
of this dark state raised questions about how life ever could have begun, given that the
genetic carriers were so easily mutated or destroyed during this very brief but very vulnerable time.
At this point, the press release takes a dramatically optimistic turn: the dark state disappears
in the presence of water. So if water were present, the earliest DNA bases would have
been able to survive and eventually help form the basis for ever-more-complex life forms,
When the bases of DNA were first being formed billions of years ago [sic],
the atmosphere was actually quite hostile, Kong said. It was a period prior
to any protective ozone layer on Earth and the ultraviolet radiation was very strong.
So if primordial DNA bases were forced into this vulnerable dark state, they should have incurred
large amounts of photochemical damage that would have made the very survival of these bases
difficult, let alone further evolution of life.
The findings suggest, Kong said, how water could have been an absolutely essential compound to
allow early DNA bases to remain stable, resist mutation, and ultimately allow for the evolution of life....
So while the news seems bad, they were able to spin it positively by adding water:
the presence of water was the key to the evolution of life on Earth, making it possible
for life to emerge [sic] from what was once a hostile and unforgiving primordial soup of chemicals
and radiation [sic]. In other words, dont try freeze-dried primordial soup.
What this is really telling us is that life is a unified process, Kong said.
Its not just a group of DNA bases, but its also the physical environment in which they
exist. Later on, as life became more evolved [sic], there were other ways to
achieve genetic stability. But at first, it simply may not have been possible without water.
The only good news here is that these researchers have not
completely obliterated all hope. This is not good news for the OOL (origin-of-life) school.
They have constrained further a hopeless situation (see online book).
This radical heresy removes any possibility of key building blocks forming away from water.
Remember when Steve Benner postulated ribose forming in a desert with boron, because it was too unstable
Now, the poor guy has to make the ribose in the desert (hoping that UV radiation
wont destroy it there), then get it into the water where the A, C, T, G or uracil are, hoping somehow that
they will join up with phosphates on some clay mineral, and then link into polynucleotide chains that
can both code for information and perform enzymatic functions (RNA World), but also find a safe haven in some
membrane that is not so tight it becomes a death trap.
Imaginary Feathers Found on Turkey Dino
Sounds like a hard story to sell to Congress.
Things are not going too well for astrobiology these days.
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
Last month, we reported on announcements of a dinosaur fossil with imaginary feathers
at least, all the news stories mentioned feathers and some had pictures of them,
but the original paper said nothing about feathers. Now,
Geographic has done it again: Giant Turkey-Like Dinosaur Found in Utah,
the title reads, with a picture of a blue-feathered dinosaur complete with fantail.
Were feathers found? Only fragments of the animal were discovereda fearsomely
clawed hand and foot, the article states, but then quickly adds, But the dinosaur
probably stood seven feet (two meters) tall and ran as fast as an ostrich (emphasis added in all quotes).
Presumably, if it could keep up with an ostrich, it must have worn the same racing plumage.
They quote a researcher saying, We dont know if Hagryphus would have had a feather
fan on the back of its tail [characteristic of turkeys], but its close cousins did,
so its possible. The close cousins are oviraptors, which the article
states, had simple feathers, winglike arms, powerful legs, long claws, and powerful,
toothless beaks for shearing through food. Yet these simple feathers,
we have seen, were integumentary structures surrounding some bones that others have concluded
were flayed skin, and contained no vanes and barbs characteristic of bird feathers.
The choice of words, images and comparisons to ostriches and turkeys blurs the distinction between
dinosaurs and birds, but without actual fossil feathers to confirm the connection.
What do you expect? The National Geographic Society
of Judas-Lovers (see next entry)
has mastered the power of the big lie,
Remember its Was Darwin Wrong? No! propaganda?
(02/15/2005). We hoped Chris Johns
would tone down the rhetoric after Bill Allen left, but his biggest lies
have been Always be honest and tell the truth.... Be humble, there is no room for arrogance.
National Geographic is a lost cause. Its been that way for a
long time; good for lurid pictures of ethnics in their native dress,
but not much else. If you want facts, get your news from sources that care about the truth.
Gospel of Judas TV Documentary Sells Gnosticism to the Public 04/09/2006
Next headline on:
National Geographic aired its long-awaited documentary Sunday night about the discovery,
restoration, and translation of a Gnostic manuscript found in 1970, the Gospel of Judas
(see next entry). The trailers had titillated audiences that
this was an explosive document that would call our deepest beliefs into question.
The content of the documentary clearly gave better press to Gnostic beliefs over those of
traditional Christian theology.
What a travesty. Sweep away the acting, religious rituals, special effects, haunting music,
breathy narrator, cloak-and-dagger detective story about how the manuscript was found and restored, the suspenseful build-up
to the reading of the text, and all the other irrelevant Hollywood tricks, and what is left?
Only the opinions of a few apostate professors. There was virtually no serious investigation
of whether the Gospel of Judas is authentic or trustworthy. Yet that is the most important point,
the only point that matters. They call it an authentic ancient text (a classic
half truth, since, in terms of the papyrus it is written on, dating from the
3rd or 4th century, it is), but fail to establish that the content has anything whatsoever to do with the real
Judas, or with real historical events.
Can You Trust the Bible Skeptics?
If the Gospel of Judas is a work of a second-century Gnostic sect falsely attributed to Judas,
then that is all that needs to be said about it.
It would be of interest to historians, but not enough to cause any stir Sunday morning at church.
But no they have to repeatedly imply that the Gospel of Judas is on par with Matthew, Mark, Luke
and John. Rather than consider the possibility that it might be completely fictional and unreliable, they imply
that this lost gospel written by early Christians that can shed new light
and provide another viewpoint on the events of the passion of Christ that is equally plausible.
They put heretical sects on the same level as the faith preached by Peter and Paul.
They make the illogical claim that it is possible to believe the four
canonical gospels and the Gospel of Judas simultaneously, even when there are gross contradictions.
At best, they imply that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion about this document; at worst,
they promote, in effect, starting a new First Church of Judas-Adoring Gnostics.
The only redeeming feature of the hour-long farce are reenactments of the martyrs.
Christians should stiffen with both revulsion for the brutality of the Romans, and pride for the
steadfast confidence and hope in Christ of those who were beaten, burned and crucified for the faith. But to suggest
that one man, Irenaeus, under a desire to make Christianity more palatable to the Romans,
was responsible for arbitrarily deciding which of the gospels
were in or out, is both illogical and historically inaccurate. Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp,
and a host of other apostolic fathers in the theological line of descent from Peter and Paul and John
held essentially the same positions. Note what Dr. Clinton E. Arnold of
Biola University says:
Neither Irenaeus nor any church leader arbitrarily selected which books would become part of the
New Testament. From the moment that the gospels were first written, they were circulated
throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond and used in the churches for teaching, worship, and
devotion. Lists of New Testament writings were later drawn up by some church fathers and
early church councils to recognize and formalize what Christians were using in churches throughout
the world. The formal recognition became essential because some groups were wanting to
add to the New Testament and other people (like Marcion) were wanting to subtract from what was
widely used and recognized as authoritative.
National Geographics mockumentary also completely ignores the statements of the
first Christians recorded by Luke (a careful historian) in the book of Acts about Judas, and the well-authenticated
1st-century epistles of the Apostle Paul, that so clearly define Christology and soteriology, that any Gnostic position
or any other gospel (i.e., inconsistent with that doctrine)
is to be utterly and completely repudiated (see
The whole NG production is geared to make the historic position look vulnerable, and the
radical position brave and enticing. Conservative scholars are quoted for just a few seconds
only to dismiss them, so that the spotlight can be given to liberals like Elaine Pagels
eager to substitute imagination for fact (the whole show is basically a decorated pulpit for Pagels
and her anti-traditional views). Imagination speculation the power of
these are the highest values of this perverted documentary. Did they take lessons from
Art Bell and the face-on-Mars cults?
It gets worse. Not only is balanced scholarship utterly lacking, the program turns into
a glorification of Gnosticism the people who know, the people of insight, intuition
and the spark of the divine inside. Such beliefs, of course, are pole-opposite from both
Judaism and Christianity. Repudiating the history revealed in the oldest and best sourcesthe
New Testament canonthe message of this anti-Christian polemic relies on a translation of a
text from an unknown date by an unknown author from a weird cult, and on selective, agenda-driven, between-the-lines
readings of New Testament passages that conservative scholars would find bizarre. It makes
Judas into a saint. It suggests that Jesus Christ was a manipulator. It suggests his followers,
many of whom endured torture and died martyrs deaths, were power-hungry book-burners holding sway over the
minds of the common people. It questions the authenticity of the real gospels, without providing conservative
scholars any chance to refute the claims of the liberals with archaeological, historical and
textual evidence. The discoverer of the lost document is
allowed to say, without scorn, she believes Judas is speaking to her, inspiring her to rehabilitate his image.
It even went so far as to suggest that the New Testament is inherently anti-Semitic and contributed to the
Nazi holocaust! What a slap in the face to millions of Christians, and on Palm Sunday even!
How can such folly be tolerated? What has become of National Geographic?
It must be from too much hanging around the Darwin Party storytelling lounges
These are times of both danger and opportunity for Christians. Danger, because
the Darwin Party, liberal theologians, the media and political liberals are all attacking conservative
Christianity with an intensity unparalleled in American history. If it were scholarly debate about
facts and history, it would be worthwhile; but they are attacking with
big lies, half-truths,
suggestion, selective authority,
and other irrational methods of propaganda. In another month, the phony history of Dan Browns
DaVinci Code will send the next salvo. It is a time of opportunity for Christians, because
more and more people will have questions about these things. Better engagement than apathy.
Christians who know their history and theology can rise to the occasion and become stronger in the
process. The fields are white unto harvest, and Christ will be glorified if the church
is not caught asleep. The martyrs did not sacrifice for our lethargy.
Next headline on:
The Bible and Theology
Ever since National
Geographic announced the completion of a translation of the Gospel of Judas (a 2nd-century
apocryphal gospel attributed to, but not authored by, Judas),
the news media have been abuzz with speculations that it provides a clearer view of
Jesus from Judas point of view, and that the early church leaders suppressed it. The Gospel of
Judas was known to exist around 180 A.D. but there were no surviving copies till now.
Some media reports smack of sensationalism. Example spin-off news articles:
MSNBC News. Few seem to be
asking about the authenticity of the document or the credibility of its claims; the burden of proof is
being put on Bible-believers. An underlying assumption is that any
contrarian view must be more reliable than the accepted view.
Once the story hit the press, articles supporting the traditional canon of the New Testament
(NT) have started appearing. Collin Thomas wrote one for
and Al Mohler wrote one for Baptist Press.
Union University profs also responded in another article on
Baptist Press, calling the Gospel of Judas
both heresy and unreliable history. Responding to the argument by Princeton professor
Elaine Pagels that Gnostics did not consider their views heretical, Greg Thornbury said,
When do heretics admit that what they believe is, in fact, heresy? Whether one is talking
about the fourth century or the 21st century, there has been no shortage of people trying to discredit
the Christian faith. Ted Olsen on
Christianity Today listed two
dozen links to news articles discussing the Gospel of Judas, pro and con.
A couple of days later, Biola University
posted a response in Q&A format by Clinton E. Arnold, professor and chairman of the Department of New Testament.
So rather than running for cover, many Bible scholars are engaging the issue. Donald Senior said
in an AP story on Fox News,
Let a vigorous debate on the significance of this fascinating ancient text begin.
Update 04/22/2005: Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times (copied in the
International Herald-Tribune) wrote,
Jesus-Judas manuscript is genuine, but is its story true?
Baptist Press printed an article,
Orthodox scholars: gospel of Judas not a Christian document. Rev. Mark Creech
responded also on Agape Press.
The May issue of National Geographic, however, contained an expanded article similar in
content to the press release.
What has become of National Geographic? Right before Easter, they
published two reports trying to put Christians on the defensive: the silly claim by Doron Nof that Jesus
walked on ice instead of water (04/04/2006),
and now passing off this phony gospel with a conspiracy-theory flavor
that the church doesnt want you to know the truth about Judas. Why are they
doing this? Is this objective scholarship, or activism?
The Evolution of Irreducible Complexity
Think for a moment what would happen if they did this to the Koran.
Imagine the consequences that might ensue, considering the some hundred people that died over cartoons of
Mohammed. Or consider if NG made a crusade of debunking native American beliefs. Only with
Christianity is there a continual onslaught to undermine a religions historical foundations
with impunity, and for added insult, right before their holiest time of the year. Why the
asymmetry in so-called political correctness?
Since Christians are a forgiving lot, lets set aside such feelings for now, and
talk about the new document. The Gospel of Judas is merely one of
many apocryphal, spurious writings of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. This is
not news; though we didnt have a copy of this one till now, others are well known from antiquity
or from the Nag Hammadi cache of Gnostic texts found in Egypt in 1945. Scholars
have read them, analyzed them and put them in context. As with any long-lost manuscript, the Gospel of
Judas is historically interesting and worthy of analysis. The scientists who dated and translated
this document did exemplary work. Ancient texts, reliable or not, can shed light on the period in which they
were written and on the beliefs of certain sects at the time. Whether its contents have historical
validity is a completely separate question. Compare, for instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls.
They are of immense value for historians and for textual criticism of the Old Testament manuscripts,
but whether the teachings of the Qumran community accurately reflected Judaism is a separate question.
Scholars debate whether they were the Essenes of which Josephus wrote, and what was their relationship to the
priestly class of Jewish believers in Jerusalem or to the Diaspora or to other Jewish sects. The contrast between true
Christianity and Gnosticism is more stark. Sure, there were spin-off churches and various sects, but
Christians and Jews have a standard: the Scriptures.
The NT canon (from a word meaning measuring rod) is to true Christianity what the OT canon was to Judaism: a rule, a guide, a
trustworthy body of inspired writings that distinguishes the true faith from the false.
Gnosticism is not Christianity, and Christianity is not Gnosticism; their doctrines are poles apart.
We dont need spurious
writings to tell us what Christianity is. We have the evidence right in front of us; the earlier, more reliable,
more credible writings of the real apostles and their companions, and the words and acts of Jesus Himself as
recorded by eyewitnesses. Even unbelievers should acknowledge that you should get your information
from the best sources available, not from later writings of doubtful authenticity used by heretical sects.
(Whether these sects considered themselves heretical is completely irrelevant; if you feel
six feet tall but the yardstick measures you at three feet, sorryenjoy your delusion.)
The canonical NT writings all date from the 1st century, and some from just a few decades,
or less than a decade, from the events described. This is widely acknowledged by reputable
historians, both secular and Christian. There is an embarrassment of riches of manuscripts of these
texts: thousands of them, not to mention translations and citations by early church fathers.
Long before the present NT canon become official in the days of Constantine, and long
before there was a centralized church authority, early Christians shared a broad consensus on which texts
were authentic and inspired. The ones that were written by the original apostles or
their close associates (such as Mark and Luke), including Pauls epistles, were accepted by Christians
all over the Roman empire. There were a few without complete acceptance: documents such as II Peter and Revelation
were accepted by some and not others; this may have been due to availability. On the other hand,
some documents like the Didache and Shepherd of
Hermas enjoyed wide popularity for awhile but either were not considered inspired like the apostolic
writings, or eventually declined in acceptance not by official decree, but, again, by consensus.
Before there was a Catholic church with a centralized authority, church councils later codified what was
already the accepted canon of the NT. In the councils, there was some debate about the few books
enjoying wide but not universal acceptance; the debates concluded with a strong affirmation of the
present 27 books (a list nearly identical to those of some apostolic fathers much earlier). How the
NT canon came to be is a fascinating subject that will not be explored in
detail here. The main point is that the NT canon was not some arbitrary decree of a hierarchy trying to
suppress minority views within a church, but an affirmation and formalization of the
beliefs of Christians from around the Empire about what constituted Scripture the word of God.
Into this milieu appeared a number later documents that were either (1) known to be from
Gnostic and other heretical sects, or (2) were falsely attributed to apostles or other first-century
characters. These are called pseudepigrapha, or falsely-ascribed epigraphs i.e.,
spurious writings. The Gospel of Judas is both. As Collin Hansen wrote in
Christianity Today (good article),
the Gospel of Judas is not a gospel, and it was not written by Judas. It would sure change
things, if it were true. But it isnt. Its a phony document, written
by a heretical cult. So why the media attention?
That there would be competing documents with the New Testament should come as no surprise.
Look at the copycats that follow any successful movie or book today.
As Christianity spread, so would motivations rise for competing with it or corrupting it with
other religious traditions.
This had already begun in the book of Acts (e.g., see Pauls warning to the Ephesian elders,
There were Judaizers trying to pull it toward legalism, and
Roman mystery religions trying to pull it toward secret wisdom, and philosophers trying to meld it
with Greek philosophy.
Jesus, Paul, Peter and Jude all warned of false teachers that would quickly arise and mislead many.
Already in Pauls time there were hints of the Gnostic sects that
the early church had to confront (cf. the warnings in Pauls epistle to the Colossians, and I John).
There have been off-shoot and off-beat sects all through history. True believers have always
heeded the stern Biblical commands to guard against false teachers and deceivers who pollute the
word of God with falsehoods out of the imaginations of their own heart.
Comparison of Gnostic teachings with the core of
the New Testament doctrine easily shows the differences. The New Testament is remarkably consistent in
doctrine, though written by men with a variety of backgrounds (fisherman, Jewish scholars, a doctor,
a tax collector, and more), whereas the Gospel of Judas is clearly a Gnostic polemic dressed up as a historical narrative.
It is one of many false gospels that arose in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
Naturally, a fake would get more attention if it could be passed off as written by Mary, Judas,
Peter, Thomas, Barnabas or other (by now) famous characters. (This particular fake was authored
by the Cainites, a Gnostic sect devoted to praising the villains of the Bible.) None of these spurious writings
had the wide acceptance of the New Testament texts, and many were overtly denounced as heretical by
local elders and Christian writers. Its easy to
see why; they contained crazy ideas, or doctrines clearly contradictory to Scripture.
The Gospel of Judas falls into this category. Perhaps some copies were destroyed, but more likely,
it was not copied because it was known to be phony. The copy we have now dates from about
300 AD. Irenaeus knew about it in 180 and condemned it in Against Heresies (notice this
is long before any centralized church or official councils), though its original date is unknown.
No serious scholar believes it has any real connection to Judas. While any new archaeological
find is interesting and worth study, a book like the Gospel of Judas, a translation of an earlier work, of
doubtful antiquity and likely forgery, should not be put on the same shelf
as the more trustworthy and verifiable manuscripts of the New Testament.
For these reasons, is it not strange that the media are leaping to
conspiracy theories that the early church tried to cover up these texts? Read the New Testament, especially
the sources accepted as earliest and most genuine by all reputable historians, and the differences are clear.
What does straw have in common with gold? Yet NG and other news sources seem beside themselves to
find ways to call the teachings of Jesus into question. This is not scholarship; this is
Let a modern hypothetical case illustrate the point.
Suppose Michael Moore writes a secret biography of George Washington and attributes it to Benedict Arnold.
(Moore is able to maintain his anonymity somehow.)
A few copies get into circulation but are widely dismissed by scholars as forgeries and not worthy of
any serious consideration. The book is a flop; few copies ever get circulated, but it gets
notoriety from high-profile book reviews, mostly negative. A thousand years pass, and some
archaeologist finds a German translation of Moores book. For a long time in between,
historians had possessed a wealth of
primary sources and reputable biographies of Washington. They had heard about Moores book
only from reviewers who denounced it. Now, the German version appears and is translated.
Radiocarbon dating places
it somewhere about 200 years after Washington lived. Scholars read the words of now-forgotten
Michael Moore impersonating Benedict Arnold, Washingtons confidant turned traitor,
telling new secrets about the father of our country. Among other shocking revelations,
Arnold claims that he only defected to the English because Washington asked him to.
Would it make any
sense to give such a book equal or superior standing against the reputable biographies that actually
date back to the time of Washington himself? Of course not; that would make the National
Enquirer blush. Then why all the hubbub over the Gospel of Judas and
other apocryphal writings that were known and discounted by the heirs of the true apostles, who
knew about and refuted the heretical sects that were putting out these teachings? What if new
writings of David Koresh or Jim Jones were to surface? Some historians would
probably be interested in them, and would benefit by learning details about the beliefs that led them to
do what they did. Most Christians would lose nothing by remaining ignorant of such things and
focusing, instead, on the real Scriptures. Light is more satisfying than darkness.
If NG, the New York Times and the popular press have an axe to grind against Christians, and if they
hold a political and social agenda overtly contrary to the principles of the New Testament,
let them say so; it is their right in a free country (as long as they are not getting government funding).
But if they want any credibility, they owe it to themselves to get their facts straight and
follow best practices of scholarship. Then, and only then, can an intelligent discussion take place.
Next headline on:
The Bible and Theology
It must be open season on Intelligent Design (ID). Yesterday, Nature tried defense
with a new missing link claim (04/06) and today, Science is printing
a story to tackle IDs offensive line, irreducible complexity
(see U of Oregon press release
The Discovery Institute immediately jumped to the match, with Mr. Irreducible Complexity himself,
Michael Behe, leading the charge (see ID
the Future). Behe stood his ground without a flinch, calling this the lamest excuse yet
to answer the challenge irreducible complexity poses for Darwinian evolution.
Additional responses have been appearing on Evolution News
and ID the Future.
Read both sides. Impressed with the Charlie charge?
Kind of like Picketts, isnt it?
On both counts the Darwinists are fighting tanks with feather pillows. In both cases also, they
only give the press their side of the story, and the other side is forbidden access to respond.
Fish-o-pod Missing Link Discovered: Media Goes Nuts 04/06/2006
Its time for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.
For their bluff, bluster, fluff and froth, and for the silly idea that molecules planned ahead
to be pre-adapted for later function, the reporters at University
of Oregon are the winners:
Thorntons group then showed that the ancestral receptor also responded to a far more ancient
hormone with a similar structure; this made it preadapted to be recruited into a new functional
partnership when aldosterone later evolved. The stepwise process we were able to
reconstruct is entirely consistent with Darwinian evolution, Thornton said.
So-called irreducible complexity was just a reflection of a limited ability to see how
O ye of little faith, they cry, can ye not see how the unguided hand of Charlie hath wrought these wonders?
The incorrigibility of Darwinian fundamentalists knows no bounds. But what will they say when they have to fight real
intellectual armies in public view instead of straw soldiers? Pull down the
the Bamboozle Curtain and public perceptions will change really fast.
Next headline on:
Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory
Evolutionists could hardly feel more relieved. Just when anti-evolutionary sentiment is
on the rise, a new fossil has been announced that gives pro-evolutionists a missing link to run up the fishpole,
and boy, did the media salute.
Neil Shubin (U of Chicago) and two partners found a tetrapod-like fish fossil on a
Canadian island. It helps fill one of the most puzzling transitions in the fossil record,
they said: the evolution from a fish to a land animal.
To hear the media celebration over this underwater Archaeopteryx,
it would sound like the war is over and evolution wins. Creationists
have been complaining about gaps in the fossil record, and here is a perfect case of a
transitional form. One scientist smirked, Its good of the Intelligent Designer
to continue to provide missing links, dont you think?
Here are just a few of the claims being made in the press about
Tiktaalik roseae, the newest icon of evolution (emphasis added in all quotes):
One gets the distinct impression they think this is an important fossil. Now that
the parade has passed by, perhaps it would be a good time to delve into the original scientific papers
and see what exactly was said. It made the cover story of Nature. There were two papers
inside by Shubins team, and a review article by Jennifer Clack, a leading researcher on
tetrapod origins. In journal articles, where scientists talk to themselves, they are expected
to be more formal, reserved and cautious about interpretations. Lets see.
a key marker in the evolutionary transition of fish to limbed animals.
- News@Nature: this is
the fish that crawled out of water a true missing link that
it helps to fill in a gap in our understanding of how fish developed legs for land mobility,
before eventually evolving into modern animals including mankind.
- BBC News:
Fossil animals found in Arctic Canada provide a snapshot of fish evolving into land animals...
giving researchers a fascinating insight into this key stage in the evolution of life on Earth.....
Could could prove to be as much of an evolutionary icon as Archaeopteryx
an animal believed to mark the transition from reptiles to birds.
American: Newfound Fossil Is Transitional between Fish and Landlubbers.
Scientist: IT WAS one of the most important events of the last 400 million years:
the moment our fishy ancestors began hauling themselves onto dry land. Now a fossil from the
very beginning of that crucial transition has been found in the remote Arctic.
Neil Shubin calls it a a fishopod: part fish, part tetrapod.
- AP, via MSNBC: Scientists have caught a
fossil fish in the act of adapting toward a life on land, a discovery that sheds new light on
one of the greatest transformations in the history of animals. Researchers have long known
that fish evolved into the first creatures on land with four legs and backbones more than 365 million
years ago, but theyve had precious little fossil evidence to document how it happened....
It sort of blurs the distinction between fish and land-living animals, said one of its discoverers,
paleontologist Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago.
Geographic: Its our closest fish cousin, scientists say.
Millions of years ago it apparently hoisted its croc-like head out of the waterand
the rest is history.
- New York Times:
Other scientists said that in addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution,
the fossils were a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who have long argued that the absence
of such transitional creatures are a serious weakness in Darwins theory.
Fishy Land Beast Bridges Evolutionary Gap.
Times: One Small Step for Fish... (fill in the next line; at least the LA Times
wins cleverest title). These exciting discoveries are providing fossil Rosetta Stones
for a deeper understanding of this evolutionary milestone fish to land-roving tetrapods,
said H. Richard Lane (NSF).
The research was first submitted to Nature in October, but released today.
The fact that the mainstream media were all prepared with instant artwork, interviews and sound bites
makes it likely they were clued in with plenty of time to make a splash.
Though it is clear the authors all believe this is an evolutionary transitional form, the
most interesting statements from scientific papers are usually the caveats and disclaimers.
Most of all, the observational data must always take precedence over interpretations.
In the first paper by Daeschler, Shubin and Jenkins,1 they begin,
The relationship of limbed vertebrates (tetrapods) to lobe-finned fish (sarcopterygians) is
well established, but the origin of major tetrapod features has remained obscure for lack of fossils
that document the sequence of evolutionary changes. That is a strange statement for a scientific paper.
It sounds something like, We know its true; we just lack evidence.
Here we report the discovery of a well-preserved species of fossil sarcopterygian fish from the
Late Devonian of Arctic Canada that represents an intermediate between fish with fins and tetrapods
with limbs, and provides unique insights into how and in what order important tetrapod characters
arose. Although the body scales, fin rays, lower jaw and palate are comparable to those in more
primitive sarcopterygians, the new species also has a shortened skull roof, a modified ear region,
a mobile neck, a functional wrist joint, and other features that presage tetrapod conditions.
The morphological features and geological setting of this new animal are suggestive of
life in shallow-water, marginal and subaerial habitats.
Sounds like the popular press so far; now, into the details. They admit that The evolution of
tetrapods from sarcopterygian fish is one of the major transformations in the history of life and
involved numerous structural and functional innovations, including new modes of locomotion,
respiration and hearing. In other words, many substantial changes had to come together
in one animal to go from breathing through gills to breathing with lungs, developing feet that could
support the weight, developing digits and ankles and toes and learning how to use them, and much
During the origin of tetrapods in the Late Devonian (385-359 million years ago), the proportions of
the skull were remodelled [sic; implies intelligent design], the series of bones connecting the
head and shoulder was lost, and the
region that was to become the middle ear [sic; implies progress] was modified. At the same time,
robust limbs with digits evolved, the shoulder girdle and pelvis were altered, the ribs expanded,
and bony connections between vertebrae developed.
Few of these innovations are seen in the closest relatives
of tetrapods, they say. They talk about Panderichthys, Acanthostega and Ichthyostega, which
have been discussed earlier in these pages (see 04/05/2004
and 08/09/2003, Evolution of the Darwin Fish.). Surprisingly,
however, they dismiss them as fragmentary and of doubtful utility. This includes the earlier leading candidate
for missing link:
Panderichthys possesses relatively few tetrapod synapomorphies [convergent features], and
provides only partial insight into the origin of major features of the skull, limbs
and axial skeleton of early tetrapods. In view of the morphological gap between
elpistostegalian fish and tetrapods, the phylogenetic framework for the immediate sister
group of tetrapods has been incomplete and our understanding of major anatomical transformations
at the fish–tetrapod transition has remained limited.
The discrediting of previous specimens was the build-up to the new fossil,
which, they boasted, significantly enhances our knowledge of the fish–tetrapod transition.
(This boast should be taken with a grain of salt, considering that similar claims were made about
Panderichthys.) Proceeding on, they place Tiktaalik somewhere between
Panderichthys and the first hypothetical tetrapods.
The paper next provides the obligatory data for a new species: location found,
taxonomy, nomenclature, description of the fossil, photos, drawings, etc. The head was remarkably
well preserved, and three specimens were found. Naming and classifying an extinct species, however, provides
the discoverers some leeway in placing it into the presumed evolutionary framework.
A technical description of parts ensues. Compared to the earlier known
fossils, Tiktaalik has a larger this and a smaller that, etc. For all its impressive
jargon, the technical description does not in itself establish the case that the creature was
evolving into a tetrapod. Data provide the hard evidence, but interpretations are subjective.
Side-by-side skull comparisons do not look that informative, especially when there are no soft parts and no videos
of how the creature actually lived. It must be remembered, for instance, that Coelacanth
was long considered a transitional form because of its bony fins, but when discovered alive,
the fish did not use them for walking or raising itself up in any way.
Without soft parts such as gills and organs, and without living examples,
interpretation of anatomy from bony parts alone is at best an exercise in educated guesswork;
consider, as a hypothetical example, the surprise of a paleontologist finding a live skunk after
only knowing the animal from its skeleton.
Subjectivity becomes much more an issue when constructing evolutionary trees, because
evolutionary paleontologists presuppose that the fish-to-tetrapod transition occurred; also,
and it cannot be discounted that a specialist in the field, who has taken great pains to find a
specimen, and whose career is riding on the outcome, would like to become known as the
discoverer of the missing link. When these authors turn to the phylogenetic
position of Tiktaalik, what features led them to conclude these specimens are transitional?
A phylogenetic analysis of sarcopterygian fishes and early tetrapods (Fig. 7) supports the
hypothesis that Tiktaalik is the sister group of tetrapods or shares this
position with Elpistostege. Tiktaalik retains primitive tetrapodomorph features
such as dorsal scale cover, paired fins with lepidotrichia, a generalized [sic]
lower jaw, and separated entopterygoids in the palate, but also possesses a number
of derived [sic] features of the skull, pectoral girdle and fin, and ribs that are shared
with stem tetrapods such as Acanthostega and Ichthyostega. Tiktaalik is
similar to these forms in the possession of a wide spiracular tract and the loss of the
opercular, subopercular and extrascapulars. The pectoral girdle is derived [sic]
in the degree to which the scapulocoracoid is expanded dorsally and ventrally, and the
extent to which the glenoid fossa is oriented laterally. The pectoral fin is
apomorphic [i.e., derived, more developed] in the elaboration of the distal endoskeleton,
the mobility of segmented regions of the fin, and the reduction of lepidotrichia distally.
In summary, they think that Panderichthys, Elpistostege and Tiktaalik represent a
paraphyletic [partially evolved] assemblage of elpistostegalian fish along the tetrapod stem
that lack the anterior dorsal fins and possess broad, dorsoventrally compressed skulls with dorsally
placed eyes, paired frontal bones, marginal nares, and a subterminal mouth.
However, Some tetrapod-like features evolved independently in other sarcopterygian groups,
while two other fossils seem to have features shared with basal tetrapods by convergent evolution
(homoplasy). It seems like the fossil record shows a smorgasboard of mixed features among ancient fish
rather than a clear line leading up to land. (Consider this in the context that the vast majority
of species on earth are extinct; one could make up any number of possible lineages; see quote by
Henry Gee in article on ID
Thats basically all that was claimed in the primary announcement. Their second paper2
discussed the pectoral fin of Tiktaalik, which they claim is morphologically and functionally
transitional between a fin and a limb. They think the front fins allowed the creature to
hoist itself up and possibly drag its tail behind. The wrist, however, lacks five digits (fingers),
and represents a mosaic of features found in more basal taxa. Though additional
wrist bones extended distally are new features of this fossil, they inferred the presence
of the missing digits on their diagram by dotted lines. Lacking living representatives,
they also are unable to tell for certain what the fin bones actually were used for.
While acknowledging that the transition from water to land would require major shifts in
developmental genetics, skeletal structure, and biomechanics, they argued that the most telling aspect
of the fin is the angle of the putative wrist bones. However, there is no evidence any
true digits for locomotion later evolved from the fin bones of this particular animal. Since they might have,
though, reporters were probably more tuned to the confident conclusion:
The pectoral skeleton of Tiktaalik is transitional between fish fin and tetrapod limb.
Comparison of the fin with those of related fish reveals that the manus [hand] is not a de novo
novelty of tetrapods; rather, it was assembled in fishes over evolutionary time to meet the
diverse challenges of life in the margins of Devonian aquatic ecosystems.
OK, now what do other experts think? In the same issue,3 Erik Ahlberg and Jennifer
Clack gave their analysis. It is unknown whether Clack, who has been in the forefront of research
into tetrapod evolution, was scooped by this discovery, or whether any personal feelings or rivalries
were involved. She did, however, with Ahlberg, put a few brakes on the interpretations, though
acknowledging the significance of the find. First, a little sermonette on missing links:
The concept of missing links has a powerful grasp on the imagination:
the rare transitional fossils that apparently capture the origins of major groups of
organisms are uniquely evocative. But the concept has become freighted with unfounded
notions of evolutionary progress and with a mistaken emphasis on the single intermediate fossil
as the key to understanding evolutionary transitions. Much of the importance of
transitional fossils actually lies in how they resemble and differ from their nearest neighbours in the
phylogenetic tree, and in the picture of change that emerges from this pattern.
Though this fossil goes a long way to filling in the gap, it does not go quite all the way,
they say. Its closest match is Elpistostege, a fragmentary fossil thought to be closer to
tetrapods than Panderichthys. They admit, the authors demonstrate convincingly that
Elpistostege and Tiktaalik fall between Panderichthys and the earliest tetrapods on
the phylogenetic tree. End of story? Not quite. Though impressed, they raise some issues.
Of the fin bones, they squelched most of the enthusiasm, emphasizing instead the long road ahead:
We raise these points because on pages 757 and 764 of this issue are reports of
just such an intermediate: Tiktaalik roseae, a link between fishes and land vertebrates
that might in time become as much of an evolutionary icon as the proto-bird [sic] Archaeopteryx.
Although these small distal bones bear some resemblance to tetrapod digits in
terms of their function and range of movement, they are still very much components of a fin.
There remains a large morphological gap between them and digits as seen in, for example,
Acanthostega: if the digits evolved from these distal bones, the process must have involved
considerable developmental repatterning. The implication is that function changed in
advance of morphology.
Though each fossil seems to represent a mosaic of characteristics rather than a straight line of evolution,
Clack and Ahlberg were ready to agree that the creature was a piece of the mosaic.
It was evidently an actual step on the way from water to land,
and that it seems, our remote ancestors [sic] were large, flattish, predatory fishes, with crocodile-like heads
and strong limb-like pectoral fins that enabled them to haul themselves out of the water.
Nevertheless, this is just one specimen, and many more will be needed to confirm the transition.
Any one creature must be seen in that context. Their concluding paragraph effectively deflates most
of the optimism about this fossil. They claim that the most important transitional forms are found,
where? in the future:
Of course, there are still major gaps in the fossil record. In particular we have almost
no information about the step between Tiktaalik and the earliest tetrapods, when the anatomy
underwent the most drastic changes, or about what happened in the following Early Carboniferous period, after the end of the Devonian, when tetrapods became fully terrestrial. But there are still large areas of unexplored
Late Devonian and Early Carboniferous deposits in the world the discovery of Tiktaalik gives
hope of equally ground-breaking finds to come.
Joseph Farah reads Between the Lines on the missing-link
claim about Tiktaalik (see 04/06/2006) on
World Net Daily.
Columnist Ted Byfield also mentioned the fish-o-pod in his
WND editorial, Rebutting Darwinists.
Frank Sherwin has a response on ICR.
1Daeschler et al., A Devonian tetrapod-like fish and the evolution of the tetrapod body plan,
440, 757-763 (6 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04639; Received 11 October 2005; ; Accepted 8 February 2006.
2Shubin et al., The pectoral fin of Tiktaalik roseae and the origin of the tetrapod limb,
440, 764-771 (6 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04637; Received 11 October 2005; ; Accepted 8 February 2006.
3Per Erik Ahlberg and Jennifer A. Clack, Palaeontology: A firm step from water to land,
440, 747-749 (6 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/440747a.
OK, Shubin, you caught a fish and got your picture in the paper.
Now that you are feeling your oats, take on the Cambrian explosion.
Experimental Biologists Look to Animals for Inspiration
You didnt get this much detail from the major news media.
You didnt hear the discoverers hedge their bets and admit that this fossil is just a tiny piece
of a huge puzzle that is mostly not understood. You didnt hear the AP (Associated Preach) tell the
truth that the fossil record is characterized by large and systematic gaps between groups, with only
rare, isolated and questionable transitional forms. No, you got hype and bluster and far-fetched
exaggeration, where the actual bones were incidental to the true goal of making Charlie not look as
dead as he is. Meanwhile, an explanation of the origin of all the genetic information required
for such a transition was completely glossed over; and, of course, not a single credible non-Darwinian
paleontologist got a word in edgewise over the din of the mainstream medias Charlie pride parade.
If you got mad last time (04/05/2004) its time to get mad again
for the same reasons.
A reader writes: Dear Staff... The April 6, 2006 article on the Fish-O-Pod found in
Canada is great news... Now we know where all the Walking Catfish in the lakes in Orlando, Florida came from...
They actually walk up on the interstate and get eliminated by cars! FISH-O-POD is nothing new, we
have been squashing them for years! Another commented on the AP coverage, I got seasick
from all the handwaving. To this we add, scientists are not assuming that mudskippers
are transitional forms to salamanders, are they? Or grunion to snakes, or rikshas to sedans?
Lets play their game and daydream about beavers evolving into seals, and flying squirrels evolving
into bats. Connecting dots is childs play.
See also a preliminary response from the
Institute, followed by another by Casey Luskin on
News; also, a preliminary analysis by Dr. David Menton on
in Genesis: Gone fishin for a missing link? An article by Jonathan Witt on
ID the Future has
information on the comparison with Archaeopteryx, and contains an apropos quotation made years ago
by Henry Gee, editor of Nature,
on the feasibility of reconstructing phylogenetic trees from fossils. The best part:
To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis
that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story amusing,
perhaps even instructive, but not scientific. And thats from the senior editor of
the same journal where this announcement appeared today.
Parting thought: In a private conversation about evolution recently, a friend responded:
I dont have any doubts about evolution; there have been too many people working on it for too
long for it to not to be well established. (See Bandwagon,
Glittering Generalities in the Baloney Detector.) Do you appreciate
the value of delving into the details?
Tip: See this story in Spanish on: SEDIN.
Next headline on:
Whether insects, fish, birds or mammals, animals have a lot to teach scientists and engineers.
Here are some recent stories that begin to answer, How do they do that? with hopes
that humans might be able to mimic their feats.
- Hard sponges: Aimee Cunningham in
Science News (03/25/2006; 169:12, p. 184)
described the astonishment Joanna Aizenberg (Bell Labs) felt about the Venus Flower Basket sponge
Not only is its silicate glass structure strong enough for a man to stand on, it is
intricately woven with cross bridges and organic shock-absorbing glue the most
perfect design I have ever seen. (See also 07/08/2005
and 03/01/2004 about its fiber optics.)
- Tough beaks: In the same Science News article, Cunningham told about
Mark Meyers (UC San Diego) being impressed with the beaks of toucans in Brazil. Toucans
have the largest beak-to-body ratio of any bird; they use them to grip heavy fruit, which they
skillfully toss into the air to gulp down. The beak must be rigid enough to
resist bending and twisting forces, and yet this stiffness cant come with great weight,
or the bird couldnt get off the ground, Cunningham writes of Meyers findings.
Indeed, despite its dominating size, the beak makes up only one-twentieth of the toucans
body mass. Materials scientists are very interested in such substances found in
sea sponges, seashells, oysters and bird beaks, because they are lightweight and resistant to fracture
without sacrificing strength.
- Weird tooth:
(3/25/2006, 169:12, p. 186) also had more details about narwhals, the arctic whales with the
big spiral tusks that apparently serve as environmental antennae (see 12/13/2005).
Susan Milius wrote about the difficulty Martin Nweeia (dentist at Harvard Medical School) had
in studying the elusive animals. Little is known about the life habits of these medium-size
whales that spend much of their lives under the Arctic ice, but scientists are beginning to
follow them with sensors embedded in their skin, which have detected them making record
dives to 1,800 meters. Though some researchers insist the tusks are sexually-selected
structures for male prowess, Nweeia felt the 10 million tubules connecting to the nerves dont
make sense if the tusks are mere fishing spears or lances for dueling. He said,
When you have something so exquisite, you dont bring that on the battlefield.
- Bee Landing Gear: According to
Society for Experimental Biology found out why orchid bees let their feet dangle under them while
flying. The feet provide extra lift and prevent roll at high speeds. This principle
might help with the design of miniature flying machines for search and rescue operations.
- Rabbit tricks: A greyhound pursuing a rabbit might give up and call it a bad hare day.
The rabbit has better muscles for jumping and quick turns, says a report on
- Follow the ant home: An ant may know the route better than a man with a map and compass.
Ants can remember landmarks, but also have a backup system, says a story from the Society for Experimental
Biology reported on EurekAlert.
They have a path integrator that allows them to create straight shortcuts back to the
nest even when the outbound part of the forage run was very winding, by constantly reassessing
position with an internal compass and measure of distance traveled. Knowledge about path
integration and landmark learning gained from our experiments with ants has already been
incorporated in autonomous robots, the article says.
- Follow the ant under the bar: Ants can do limbo, says another
story on EurekAlert.
They can visually judge the height of a horizontal barrier and crawl under it without slowing down.
The ants can sense a barrier with either eyes or antennae.
- Crow puzzle: Rooks, a kind of crow, passed an intelligence test. They were
able to manipulate a piece of food through a tunnel that contained a trap door.
EurekAlert summarized a
series of experiments reported in Current Biology1 that supported the idea these birds
use sophisticated physical cognition to understand puzzles and how to solve them, unlike preprogrammed
robots that merely make associations.
- Hummingbird memory: Another report in Current Biology2 last month
found that hummingbirds never forget. Experiments with controlled nectar sources showed that they
could remember the location of eight rewards and update the information throughout the day.
They could also remember the timing of visits, so as to avoid revisiting empty flowers until they refilled.
Not only is this the first time that this degree of timing ability has been shown in wild animals,
report Henderson et al., but these hummingbirds also exhibit two of the fundamental aspects of
episodic-like memory, the kind of memory for specific events often thought to be exclusive to humans.
- Avionics is for the birds: Bird watching will never be the same. Scientists can
now attach miniature sensors and miniature 50g cameras to the bodies and wings of birds to learn about how they fly, says
EurekAlert. One group is
doing this with eagles to figure out the function of their control systems.
- Fly feet: A stunning electron micrograph of a flys foot can be found on a story
Researchers are studying the elegant foot pads to figure out how flies can dance on the ceiling.
To a group presenting their findings at the Society for Experimental Biology today, fly feet provide
inspiration for mimicking locomotion of wall and ceiling walking machines, which use micropatterned
polymer feet for generating adhesion.
- Stargazing lobster: The UK is building a telescope for the International Space Station
based on the design of the lobster eye,
reported BBC News. The Lobster All-Sky
X-ray Monitor will mimic what lobsters do: utilize a huge array of tiny channels that focus light by
reflection, rather than by bending it through lenses found in human eyes, giving it an extremely
wide field of vision. It has taken nearly 30 years for humans to perfect the optics involved.
- The Bug Love: Hate insects? Think again.
News @ Nature says,
Next time you dismiss insects as mere creepy-crawlies, ponder for a while on what life would be
like without them. Our six-legged friends might be more valuable than you think research
estimates that theyre worth at least a staggering $57 billion to the US economy every year.
From agriculture to birdwatching, insects are there to help keep our economy buzzing. Beetles
devour harmful waste. Flies provide bait for fishermen. Bees pollinate our crops.
Many species encourage biodiversity and provide essential food for many animals. (Where mosquitos
fit in, the article did not say.)
1Jackie Chappell, Avian Cognition: Understanding Tool Use,
Volume 16, Issue 7, 4 April 2006, Pages R244-R245, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.03.019.
2Henderson et al., Timing in Free-Living Rufous Hummingbirds, Selasphorus rufus,
Volume 16, Issue 5, 7 March 2006, Pages 512-515, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.01.054.
Most of these stories did not mention evolution, and in those that did,
it was more an aftermarket gloss than a contribution to the scientific understanding. A revolution
in animal studies is underway a revolution based on design principles. The investigations
here presuppose that there are elegant designs in nature that humans can try to understand.
The design principles observed are transferable to human engineering. Darwinism, a minor Victorian
religious sect, has nothing to offer the Information Age. Think design.
The Class Struggle: Students Challenge Teachers Over Evolution 04/05/2006
Next headline on:
Teaching uncooperative teenagers has always been challenging, but some of todays biology teachers may feel nostalgic for the
days when rowdy students whacked the bulletin boards with real spitballs instead of verbal
ones. Now, dodging student challenges to evolution is getting downright exhausting.
Students used to just accept what the teacher said about the subject matter; questions were more
the Why do I have to learn this stuff? kind than How do I know its
true? Some teachers may regret the days they used to complain about students merely
memorizing and regurgitating facts rather than thinking. At least, it was easier to
glide through the evolution chapter back then.
Stephanie Simon reported in the
Los Angeles Times
March 31 about this growing problem. Sometimes disruptive but often sophisticated questioning
of evolution by students has educators increasingly on the defensive, she began (emphasis
added in all quotes). Al Frisbys biology class in Liberty, Missouri provides a typical scene.
As his students rummage for their notebooks, Frisby introduces his central theme:
Every creature on Earth has been shaped by random mutation and natural selection
in a word, by evolution.
Simon states that at least half the students in the class dont believe him;
theyre not about to let him off easy. She attributes the class struggle
to two decades of political and legal maneuvering, and to church influence.
Loyal to the accounts theyve learned in church, students are taking it upon themselves
to wedge creationism into the classroom [sic], sometimes with snide comments but
also with sophisticated questions and a fervent faith.
The challenges begin at once.
Isnt it true that mutations only make an animal weaker? sophomore Chris Willett demands.
Cause I was watching one time on CNN and they mutated monkeys to see if they could get one to
become human and they couldnt.
Frisby tries to explain that evolution takes millions of years, but Willett isnt listening.
I feel a tail growing! he calls to his friends, drawing laughter.
Unruffled, Frisby puts up a transparency tracing the evolution of the whale, from
its ancient origins as a hoofed land animal [sic] through two lumbering transitional species
[sic] and finally into the sea. Hes about to start on the fossil evidence when sophomore
Jeff Paul interrupts: How are you 100% sure that those bones belong to those animals?
It could just be some deformed raccoon.
From the back of the room, sophomore Melissa Brooks chimes in: Those are real bones
that someone actually found? Youre not just making this up?
No, I am not just making it up, Frisby says.
Its enough to make some teachers dread the evolution module, or skip it
altogether. Simon referred to defensive armor being provided by the AAAS, like guidebooks
and workshops. Were not going to roll over and take this, she quotes
Alan Leshner of Science. These teachers are facing phenomenal pressure.
They need help.
Some of the students, empowered by organizations like
Answers in Genesis, are making it their personal
crusade to challenge evolution in the classroom. Simon mentions other arsenals:
Other students gather ammunition from sermons at church, or from the dozens of websites that
criticize evolution as a God-denying sham.
No specific mention was made of Creation-Evolution Headlines.
But John Morris of ICR was quoted as providing the types of
questions students could ask:
If a teacher is making a claim that land animals evolved into whales, students should ask:
What precisely is involved? How does the fur turn into blubber, how do the nostrils move,
how does the tiny tail turn into a great big fluke? said John Morris, president of the
Institute for Creation Research near San Diego. Evolution is so unsupportable, if you
insist on more information, the teacher will quickly run out of credibility, he said.
Simon claims that one in five teachers are avoiding the E word in class. Sometimes its
not just because of the arguments. Sometimes its because the students
have done more research than the teachers.
Stephanie Simon digressed briefly into the Kansas legal battle over evolution,
and then came back to beleaguered Mr. Frisby. She described him as religious by nature,
and a childhood Bible believer, but converted to evolution by a near religious experience in
Now, a lone ranger, he stands his ground. He uses visual aids to try to
illustrate the evolutionary timeline. He makes claims about transitional fossils and
how old they are.
Frisby promised to show the class several fossils that document [sic] the halting
and gradual evolution from apes to humans. Then he reminded them not to expect equal numbers
of human and dinosaur remains, because hominids emerged only recently [sic], while
dinosaurs ruled the planet for nearly 200 million years [sic].
Earlier generations might have disobeyed their teachers sometimes, but did not often disbelieve
them. The article ends, Sprawled out across his chair, Derik muttered: You
cant believe everything you hear in here, either. Frisby put up his next
At that, sophomore Derik Montgomery snapped to attention. I heard that
dinosaurs are only thousands of years old, like 6,000. Not millions, he said.
Thats wrong, Frisby responded briskly. What can I
tell you?. You cant believe everything you read.
No wonder Mr. Frisby is ineffective. Hes still
using transparencies. Leshner, dont waste your money on guidebooks and workshops;
give the poor teacher a projector and PowerPoint.
Fertile Imagination Envisions Life on Titan 04/04/2006
It takes some reading between the lines to appreciate the significance of what
this article represents about the growing cultural revolution over evolution.
Like most reporters in the MSM (mainstream media), Simon is undoubtedly spinning this
story to portray a brave, courageous teacher holding his ground against obstreperous
mind-numbed students brainwashed by their churches. There are probably some that
fit the stereotype.
If you are one of them, please be advised that disrespectfulness and shallow, joking objections
to evolution are shameful and harmful. Let CEH go on record as strongly denouncing personal
attacks, rudeness or disrespect against teachers. Such behavior will only reinforce the
Darwinist stereotype about students who doubt evolution being church-indoctrinated,
faith-motivated, anti-intellectual lemmings of their religion. Let CEH also promote
the highest values of intellectual honesty and integrity. These values are necessary
to expose and effectively dismantle the faith-based, mind-numbing religion of Darwinism.
What stands out in this story are the several references to students bringing
sophisticated questions that are well-researched and credible. This is
what Dr. John Morris recommended. Asking good questions is fair game and essential to a
Mr. Frisby pointed to a poster on the wall, Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak.
Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen (probably insinuating that students do the latter
when hearing his evolution spiel). But courage to speak up is praiseworthy when bad science is
Challenging dogma does not have to be rude or disruptive. Look at what Mr. Frisby
presented as evidence nothing but Bluffing Assertions of Dogmatism the old B.A.D.
habit of the Darwinists. He holds up a paper-tape timeline of 430 million of years of evolution,
with humans appearing in the last few inches. Why not challenge that? He says
dinosaurs died out millions of years before humans evolve. Says who? He claims
the fossil record is full of transitional forms, and promises to bring the
evidence. Where is it? He says science must be about natural causes only.
Why so? Simon waxed melodramatic telling a story about the spiritual warm fuzzies Mr. Frisby
gets thinking about evolution. Who cares? In none of these cases did the teacher demonstrate solid
evidence for evolution that would survive honest, critical inquiry.
He only reiterated the official dogmas of the Church of Charlie. Courage demands that
dogma be challenged in the science classroom.
Calling all students. Learn Baloney Detecting.
Learn good science. Know your history.
Respect brute facts, but distinguish between evidence and dogma. Be well-dressed,
well-groomed, sit up straight, listen with vibrant attention, and learn. Be a model student
when it comes to homework and assignments. But when something
B.A.D. comes out of the teachers mouth, raise your hand, smile, wait your turn, and then
ask that intelligent, pointed question that will leave Mr. Frisby at a loss for words.
Let your classmates see him forced to either quote the Darwin Articles of Faith in retreat, or,
better, admit I dont know, or best, That is a very good question.
Let me research that.
Ask in such a way that he will not be angry with you, but will gradually learn to become angry
with the foolishness with which he himself was deceived. If necessary, meet privately
with your teacher instead of risking embarrassing him or her in class. Do a good deed.
Enlist your teacher as an ally in the movement against B.A.D. science.
Next headline on:
Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory
The dramatic landing of the Huygens Probe on Titan over a year ago (01/14/2005,
01/21/2005, 12/05/2005) is finally
getting some overdue notice from the media. The PBS science series
NOVA just aired a new program on Cassini-Huygens,
Voyage to the Mystery Moon (see your local PBS station for rebroadcast times),
and Astronomy Magazines
May 2006 issue contained a pictorial summary by Bashar Rizk, Saturns Titan Reveals Earthlike
The NOVA piece recaptured some of the drama of the mission, and Astronomy put
together some of the finest mosaics of the landing site. Both, however, couldnt resist
accentuating the L word. Cassini-Huygens detected no life, no liquid water, and no molecules even closely
resembling biological components. The surface images showed
a sterile wasteland of icy pebbles and orange sky. Nevertheless, the writers spent
significant time speculating about life. Rizk wrote, Surprisingly, Titan may be a suitable
environment for life, and again, Only two things are lacking: a source of energy and
a source of oxygen. Thats enough to suggest the possibility of life to a fertile
NOVA not only suggested that life could exist under the surface of Titan
where presumably it might be warmer, but also suggested that the ice geysers on Enceladus
(11/28/2005) make that moon another candidate for
speculation about life. The NOVA website
includes an interview with Cassini imaging team lead Carolyn Porco, entitled
Life on a tiny moon?
It begins, liquid water is the sine qua non of life as we know it.
Indeed, Enceladus may have become, essentially overnight, the go-to body in the solar system in the
search for extraterrestrial life. Lower down in the article, Porco admits this is
extreme speculation. In his article Rizk also added a disclaimer. He called
his description of life driving Titans atmospheric cycles an extravagant explanation
and admitted that No one seriously advocates this view.... Life is unnecessary to explain
Couched in statement after statement celebrating life, however, such statements
resemble the fine-print legal disclaimers required in sales brochures; or, they
act something like quiet cops monitoring a parade, keeping the rowdy speculation from getting too
far out of hand.
Some day, one can hope that this bad habit of evolutionary drunks
can be cured. The drunks get high on methanol, which causes brain damage. Wallowing in
their stupor and verbal vomit, thinking everything is happy happy happy, engaging their fertile
imaginations in euphoric visions of nonexistent beings, it escapes
their notice that they are overlooking the most fundamental and essential aspect of life. This
aspect is sadly missing on Titan, Enceladus, Europa, Mars, and every other empty stage explored so far.
It is information. Let rigorous observation and information theory bring some
sobriety back to science, and rescue the next generation from a pitiful addiction.
Scientist Tries to Explain Away Miracle of Jesus Walking on Water
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
Easter is approaching. That must mean its the season for skeptics to try their
hand at debunking the miracles of Jesus. The first entry this year seems to be one by Doron Nof of
Florida State University
who claims Jesus walked on ice, not on water. He came up with an explanation for how parts of
the Sea of Galilee might, on rare occasions, create sheets of ice that would have given the
disciples an appearance Jesus was standing on the water. Conditions for ice formation
on this body of water below sea level are effectively zero today, but he presumes it could have
happened once in 30 to 160 years at the time of Jesus.
With RSS syndication,
(see CNet News),
this story appeared on many syndicate news summaries, including JPL.
How come scientists expect believers to just sit back and
take their weird-science theories without objection, but the moment someone challenges their
own weird-science explanations of evolution, they get paranoid and threaten lawsuits?
This hypothesis is so stupid. To avoid creating irreverent mental images, lets
imagine some Hollywood actors trying to reenact the scene. The actor playing Jesus is
trying not to slip and slide all over a tipsy piece of thin ice. The actors in the boat
playing the disciples are faking a sense of awe looking at their leader wavering and struggling
to keep his balance. Suddenly he plunges through a hole, and the sense of awe turns to
laughter. Cut; take two.
War Stories: Darwinism vs. ID
Once the actor on the ice manages to keep his footing while the cameras are
rolling, the actor playing Peter gets out of the boat but his slab of ice slips from under
him and he falls in, to the laughter of the other actors. He swims over to the actor
on the slab and yells back at
the other disciples that its just a trick. The character on the ice reaches down
to pull in the one in the water, and loses his footing, and both wind up flailing around in
It wont work. Doron Nof tried this before with the Red Sea crossing.
He tries to come up with purely natural explanations for Biblical miracles. They wind
up taking more faith than just trusting the word of the credible eyewitnesses. Next
thing you know he will say the calming of the storm was all just special effects on a sound stage.
Next headline on:
How are things going in the Darwin Wars? The rhetoric is still flying, and there
have been gains and losses on both sides. Here are assorted war stories from
battle stations and strategic summits:
As these examples show, the issue of intelligent design as an affront to the Darwinian status quo
is likely to remain in the news for some time.
- Golden Rule at Hahvahd: The Harvard
Gazette held a panel discussion on How Do We Teach Evolution. Richard Lewontin sees the
first priority as convincing the doubters that animals do evolve. Reporter Bob Brustman ended with a
surprising quote from Michael Ruse: Whether youre a believer or not, the quest to understand
this magnificent, frightening, exhilarating world that we live in is just as much a moral demand laid upon
us as love your neighbor. People who dont want to know the way the world is are
spiritually dead. This seems to beg the question of how spirituality could evolve from particles.
Casey Luskin at Evolution News
responded to the article with clarifications and definitions.
- Establishment Claws: When is the government allowed to buck the Establishment Clause and
endorse religious views? Apparently, on the internet. Thats what Casey Luskin complained
on Evolution News after
a federal judge threw out a lawsuit by Larry Caldwell accusing a federally-funded website, Understanding Evolution,
of making overtly religious claims.
- Called Well: Attorney Larry Caldwell may have lost the suit against the NCSE/UC website,
but scored in the Lancaster School District, California,
getting them to adopt a policy allowing for criticisms of evolution, reported
John West on Evolution News
(see also the coverage in a local paper, Antelope Valley Press).
The reaction of Science in
its Random Samples (March 31) was short and probably meant to be sarcastic. All it did was quote Alex
Branning, president of a group called Integrity in Academics, after the board of the Lancaster School District,
in suburban Los Angeles, voted last week to adopt a policy stating that evolution should not be taught as an
unalterable fact. According to the snippet, Branning said, This is an innovative effort
by the Lancaster School District to propel science education out of the 19th century and into the 21st century.
Science headlined the item with the title, Undeterred by Dover.
- Sunday School: That the previous item was not meant as
favorable coverage of Branning was underscored by a larger entry on AAAS Affairs in the same (31 March) issue of
Science. It spoke
glowingly of the workshop Science on the Front Line that AAAS sponsored at their
annual meeting February 19 (see 03/14/2006 entry).
- Sath Keelana: The South Carolina teaching standards dont require the teaching
of Darwins theory, so reporter for
State Cindi Ross Scoppe wondered what the fuss is about. Whether
teachers actually do bring evolution into the classrooms is another question, but her article points out
the tension between teachers and students over a theory perceived to be hostile to Christianity.
MSNBC News, however, reported on a 10-6 decision opposing
efforts to critically analyze evolutionary theory in the Bible-Belt state.
- The Redcoats Are Coming: Creationist theories about how the world was made are
to be debated in GCSE science lessons in mainstream secondary schools in England, reported the
BBC News. The subject is being included
in a syllabus for biology by one of the three main exam boards. Around the same time,
the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams stated that creationism should not be taught in the schools,
a story in MSNBC News reported. British creationist Paul Taylor
gave a response about this on Answers
in Genesis, while Michael Francisco on Evolution
News stressed that his remarks against creationism should not be misconstrued as an attack on intelligent design;
the media often conflate the two, he said.
- Play Ball By Whose Rules? Paul Nelson on
ID The Future
argued against the claim of Ron Numbers, often repeated by evolutionists, that the rules of science require
- Darwins Goliath: Nigel Williams in
Current Biology March 21 gave warm press for
Richard Dawkins on the 30th anniversary of his epochal book, The Selfish Gene. Williams
gave particularly favorable treatment for Dawkins anti-religious sentiments. The gloves
are off, he said. Dawkins, in his present role as a professor of the public understanding of
science at Oxford is fully engaged in challenging these views, but finds the situation increasingly frustrating.
- With Friends Like This: Madeleine Bunting wrote in
The Guardian about how
evolution foes chuckle approvingly at the anti-religion rants of Richard Dawkins and other hard core Darwinists.
Michael Ruse tries to quiet him down, realizing that his rhetoric reinforces their claims that evolution
is a secular, atheist religion. Bunting writes that the moral responsibility to generate light, not heat, escapes
Richard Dawkins. His book on religion, The God Delusion, is to be published this autumn,
she ends with a smirk; Dembski and the intelligent-design lobby must already be on their knees, thanking God.
- Who Needs Enemies: National
Geographic interviewed E.O. Wilson favorably. Called Darwins Natural Heir, the father of sociobiology
thinks he can bridge the gap between religion and science by appealing to the shared love of nature and sense of
responsibility for it. It will be a hard sell, though; to many creationists, this former Southern Baptist
turned secular humanist, who portrays Darwins theory as true and correct, is one of the most
prominent enemies they have.
- Ohio: Feint Praise: Jonathan Witt on ID
the Future gave sarcastic credit to the Darwinists who succeeded in getting Ohio to vote down its teach the
controversy lessons on evolution. They found a way to speak out of both sides of their mouth,
he says. In Dover, Pennsylvania, they argued that teaching criticisms of evolution is not an argument for
intelligent design. In Ohio, they argued that it was. If the Darwinists can pull that off,
I say the skys the limit, he suggested. This tactic should be extended to expunging all
the evolutionary claims in science journals that contain arguments on both sides.
- Kansas: Clearing the Air: Kansas Citizens for Science has printed a brochure in FAQ form trying to
clear up misinformation about its science standards, reported Robert Crowther on
The story contains a link to the brochure.
- Baylor Backlash: After denying tenure to Francis Beckwith on March 24
(see Baptist Press News), Baylor University
(a southern Baptist school) is feeling heat from critics. Beckwith is a distinguished faculty member who
happened to write a book favorable to intelligent design (Law, Darwinism, and Public Education).
The journal First Things wrote a defense of Beckwith, and
listed a dozen media articles and blogs criticizing the decision. John West on
said a scandal is brewing, and Baptist Press thinks this is another evidence of the academic decline
of the university which chased away Dembskis intelligent design center years ago.
- Pep Talk: To William Dembski, who qualifies almost as a General in the anti-evolution wars,
things are looking up. He told Associated Press (see Kentucky paper
Lexington Herald-Leader) that
evolution theory is on its last legs, and will likely disintegrate within a decade. Pro-evolutionists
quoted in the article dont share that outlook, of course; UK professor James Krupa denies that
evolution is dying and calls it the driving force, the foundation of all biology.
But Dembski feels that just allowing freedom for critical analysis of evolution will be enough pressure.
Evolution is so problematic, he says, it does not need help from intelligent design to collapse.
- Watchmakers Clock Ticks On: Anthony Paul Mator wrote for
World Magazine a summary of ID happenings since
Dover, saying ID is Still ticking and has found new life after the Dover defeat.
Despite recent close calls in South Carolina, Ohio and Utah, the public is getting to hear more
about both sides, and the Lancaster, California victory is a bright spot on the horizon.
Anyone seeing the Darwinians trying to prove their case with actual scientific evidence?
No: its either strategizing to keep criticisms away, or trying to convince the skeptics
that Charlie was actually a friend of religion and therefore not a threat to religious beliefs.
Go Dawkins; keep printing those books; thank God.
Scientists Cheer Theoretical Holocaust 04/02/2006
Next headline on:
Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory
Popular science reporter Forest Mims III heard a chilling round of applause at a meeting
of scientists, reported
World Net Daily.
When lizard expert Eric R. Pianka suggested it would be a good thing if airborne ebola
killed off 90% of the human population, he got a standing ovation and an award.
At a meeting of the Texas Academy of Science, the audience also liked his suggestion
that bird flu could do the job, and chuckled when he suggested it was time to sterilize
everyone on Earth. Were no better than bacteria, Pianka said in
his polemic on overpopulation.
Mims is editor of Citizen Scientist. A former popular science writer
for Scientific American, he lost his job there years ago when it was found out he
entertained doubts about Darwinism. The original article by Mims about the Pianka incident can be found
at the Citizen
Scientist website, with a response by Executive Director Shawn Carlson of the
Amateur Scientists, who called Piankas opinions horrifically and dangerously
wrong. Carlson, an evolutionist himself, called on amateurs to challenge an out-of-control establishment:
When the professional scientists have lost their sense of moral outrage of such ideologies,
then it falls to Americas great community of citizen scientists to be the conscious of
science, he said. If we do nothing when others stand and applaud ideologies of
pseudoscience and death, then history will hold us all to account for our failure to shake the
very rafters in support of truth and human life.
This is probably not that unrepresentative of the feelings
of todays leftist-leaning evolutionary biologists about you and me and their fellow
human beings. We dont see them stepping up to the plate to set an example for
the rest of us. And Carlson, thanks for your moral outrage, but tell us how truth
and morality could have evolved.
Can Delicate Fossil Embryos Survive 570 Million Years? 04/01/2006
As we approach
Easter season, choose you this day whom you will trust: a bunch of wacko radicals who think
you would be better off dead, and whose actions, if they had the power, would make Hitlers
look almost gentle by comparison or the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who loved each individual
so much as to lay down His life to rescue them from the judgment due their sins, even when
they were in rebellion and not even looking for help (see
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
Scientists and English and American universities are trying to understand how to preserve
biological embryos such as those found in Cambrian rock claimed to be 570 million years
old, reports a press release from
Normally, such soft tissues would disappear within a month. Its like trying to
fossilize soap bubbles they said. Some investigators showed that these fossils
are being preserved with calcium phosphate, but they havent explained how embryos could
survive long enough for that to happen. They are working on the hypothesis that
hydrogen sulfide might encase the embryos in a fools-gold envelope of pyrite.
This work relates to the Cambrian explosion, of which the press release stated,
Much mystery surrounds the sudden appearance of animals in the fossil record,
between 500 and 600 million years ago. Within a few million years, the fossil record
goes from zero evidence of animals to great diversity in animal forms, including
anomalocarids and trilobites.
Their work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
1Raff et al., Experimental taphonomy shows the feasibility
of fossil embryos,
Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print March 29, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0601536103.
If they can get the soap bubble to fossilize longer
than a month, it doesnt follow that it will stay that way for 570 million years.
Its time for the evidence to throw some serious challenges to the dating scheme of
the evolutionary biologists and geologists.
Next headline on:
Scientist of the Month
Click on Apollos, the trusty|
|Guide to Evolutionary Theory
I was grateful for creationsafaris.com for help with baloney detecting. I had read about
the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought. Your comments were helpful and encouraged me
that my own baloney detecting skill are improving. I also enjoyed reading your reaction
to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your
comments on the proper way to question their teachers.
(a home-schooling mom)
I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website. Instead of being objective, the
website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory....
Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor? Or did God guide this evolution?
I dont know. But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God....
To deny evolution is to deny Gods creation. To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation,
but to better appreciate it.
(a student in Saginaw, Michigan)
I immensely enjoy reading the Creation-Evolution Headlines. The way you use words
exposes the bankruptcy of the evolutionary worldview.
(a student at Northern Michigan U)
...standing O for crev.info.
(a database programmer in California)
Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website! Although I
regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, Ive found that many of them do
not stay current with relative information. I love the almost daily updates to
your headlines section. Ive since made it my browser home page, and have
recommended it to several of my friends. Absolutely great site!
(a network engineer in Florida)
After I heard about Creation-Evolution Headlines,
it soon became my favorite Evolution resource site on the web. I visit several times a
day cause I cant wait for the next update. Thats pathetic, I know ...
but not nearly as pathetic as Evolution, something you make completely obvious with your snappy,
intelligent commentary on scientific current events. It should be a textbook for science
classrooms around the country. You rock!
(an editor in Tennessee)
One of the highlights of my day is checking your latest CreationSafaris creation-evolution news listing!
Thanks so much for your great work -- and your wonderful humor.
(a pastor in Virginia)
Thanks!!! Your material is absolutely awesome. Ill be using it in our Adult Sunday School class.
(a pastor in Wisconsin)
Love your site & read it daily.
(a family physician in Texas)
I set it [crev.info] up as my homepage. That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events....
I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines. I
tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.
(a systems analyst in Tennessee)
I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.
(a Swiss astrophysicist)
I enjoy very much reading your materials.
(a law professor in Portugal)
Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.
It has been a valuable resource for me.
(a medical student in Kansas)
I wanted to tell you that the Creation Evolution headlines website is a great resource
and that I read it mostly everyday (and when I don't I catch up the next day). I really
appreciate the work and the effort that you do.
(a grad student in experimental particle physics)
Creation-Evolution Headlines is a terrific resource. The articles are
always current and the commentary is right on the mark.
(a molecular biologist in Illinois)
Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite
anti-evolution website. With almost giddy anticipation, I check
it several times a week for the latest postings. May God bless you and
empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!
(a financial analyst in New York)
I just completed reading each entry from each month. I found your site about
6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry
and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in
showing the unscientific nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.
(a doctor in Oklahoma)
I read your pages on a daily basis and I would like to let you know
that your hard work has been a great help in increasing my knowledge
and growing in my faith. Besides the huge variety of scientific
disciplines covered, I also enormously enjoy your great sense of humor
and your creativity in wording your thoughts, which make reading your
website even more enjoyable.
(a software developer in Illinois)
THANK YOU for all the work you do to make this wonderful resource! After
being regular readers for a long time, this year weve incorporated your
site into our home education for our four teenagers. The Baloney Detector
is part of their Logic and Reasoning Skills course, and the Daily Headlines
and Scientists of the Month features are a big part of our curriculum for an
elective called Science Discovery Past and Present. What a wonderful
goldmine for equipping future leaders and researchers with the tools of
(a home school teacher in California)
What can I say I LOVE YOU!
I READ YOU ALMOST EVERY DAY I copy and send out to various folks.
I love your sense of humor, including your politics and of course your faith.
I appreciate and use your knowledge What can I say THANK YOU
THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH.
(a biology major, former evolutionist, now father of college students)
I came across your site while browsing through creation & science links. I love the work you do!
(an attorney in Florida)
Love your commentary and up to date reporting. Best site for evolution/design info.
(a graphic designer in Oregon)
I am an ardent reader of your site. I applaud your efforts and pass on
your website to all I talk to. I have recently given your web site info
to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science
teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...
(a health services manager in Florida)
Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about. A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information thats been going on. Now, Im simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search. Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day. Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there. The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement. Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that theyve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references. That helps me get a better picture of what you're talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.
(an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)
Im a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming. Were pretty
isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine. I read
it daily, and if theres nothing new, I re-read everything. I follow links.
I read the Scientist of the Month. Its the best site Ive run across. Our
local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.
(a newspaper editor in Wyoming)
Congratulations on your 5th anniversary. I have been reading your page for about 2 years or so....
I read it every day. I ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics
from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.
(a reader in Delaware)
I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day....
About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written
by a staunch anti-Creationist and it sparked my interest enough to research the
topic and within a week I was yelling, my whole lifes education has been a lie!!!
Ive put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.
Past that, through resources like your website...Ive been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the grassroots level drum up interest in the subject. And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.
(an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)
I love your site! I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, Ive found it. 2. You have balanced fun with this topic. This is hugely valuable! Smug Christianity is ugly, and I dont perceive that attitude in your comments. 3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover. 4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it. I really appreciate this.
(a computer technology salesman in Virginia)
I love your site. Thats why I was more than happy to
mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place
where..... Every Darwin-cheering news article is
reviewed on that site from an ID perspective. Then
the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed,
and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real
(a project manager in New Jersey)
Ive been reading your site almost daily for about three years. I have
never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.
(a systems administrator and homeschooling father in Colorado)
I use the internet a lot to catch up on news back
home and also to read up on the creation-evolution controversy, one of my favourite topics.
Your site is always my first port of call for the latest news and views and I really appreciate
the work you put into keeping it up to date and all the helpful links you provide. You are a
beacon of light for anyone who wants to hear frank, honest conclusions instead of the usual diluted
garbage we are spoon-fed by the media.... Keep up the good work and know that youre changing lives.
(a teacher in Spain)
I am grateful to you for your site and look forward to reading new
stories.... I particularly value it for being up to date with what is going on.
(from the Isle of Wight, UK)
[Creation-Evolution Headlines] is the place to go for late-breaking
news [on origins]; it has the most information and the quickest turnaround.
Its incredible I dont know how you do it.
I cant believe all the articles you find. God bless you!
(a radio producer in Riverside, CA)
Just thought I let you know how much I enjoy
reading your Headlines section. I really appreciate
how you are keeping your ear to the ground in so
many different areas. It seems that there is almost
no scientific discipline that has been unaffected
by Darwins Folly.
(a programmer in aerospace from Gardena, CA)
I enjoy reading the comments on news articles on your site very much. It is incredible
how much refuse is being published in several scientific fields regarding evolution.
It is good to notice that the efforts of true scientists have an increasing influence at schools,
but also in the media.... May God bless your efforts and open the eyes of the blinded evolutionists
and the general public that are being deceived by pseudo-scientists.... I enjoy the site very much
and I highly respect the work you and the team are doing to spread the truth.
(an ebusiness manager in the Netherlands)
I discovered your site through a link at certain website...
It has greatly helped me being updated with the latest development in science and with
critical comments from you. I also love your baloney detector
and in fact have translated some part of the baloney detector into our language (Indonesian).
I plan to translate them all for my friends so as to empower them.
(a staff member of a bilateral agency in West Timor, Indonesia)
...absolutely brilliant and inspiring.
(a documentary film producer, remarking on the
I found your site several months ago and within weeks
had gone through your entire archives.... I check in several times a day for further
information and am always excited to read the new
articles. Your insight into the difference between
what is actually known versus what is reported has
given me the confidence to stand up for what I
believe. I always felt there was more to the story,
and your articles have given me the tools to read
through the hype....
You are an invaluable help and I commend your efforts.
Keep up the great work.
(a sound technician in Alberta)
I discovered your site (through a link from a blog) a few weeks ago and I cant stop reading it....
I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story. If the evolutionists
blindness wasnt so sad, I would laugh harder.
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, Im absolutely amazed.... Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily. Keep up the good work.
(an engineer in Virginia)
I stumbled across your site several months ago and have
been reading it practically daily. I enjoy the inter-links
to previous material as well as the links to the quoted
research. I've been in head-to-head debate with a
materialist for over a year now. Evolution is just one of
those debates. Your site is among others that have been a
real help in expanding my understanding.
(a software engineer in Pennsylvania)
I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005
story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities. It was through your website
that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article. It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature. Thank you for all you have done!
(Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)
I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance. Why dont you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?...
Your website is a sham.
(a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003
entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary. This led to a cordial
interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy,
and resulted in an impasse over definitions but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.
He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution. He just claimed
evolution is a fact.)
I absolutely love creation-evolution news. As a Finnish university student very
interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science
stuff thats been happening you have such a knack for finding all this
information! I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from
your site many times.
(a student in Finland)
I love your site and read it almost every day. I use it for my science class and
5th grade Sunday School class. I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to
get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.
(a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)
I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week
or so going over every article in the archives. I thank you for such an informative
and enjoyable site. I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.
[Later] I am back to May 2004 in the archives. I figured I should be farther
back, but there is a ton of information to digest.
(a computer game designer in Colorado)
The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines...
the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!
(endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution
Check out this site: www.creationsafaris.com.
This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries,
commentaries and great links that are added to
dailyarchives go back five years.
(a reader who found us in Georgia)
I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at www.BornAgainRadio.com,
Ive added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.
(a radio announcer)
I cannot understand
why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.
Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?
Isnt it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, faith.
It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and
from bearing false witness.
Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, apostate Christian Natural/Scientific pantheist)
Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate
the job you are doing. God bless you all this coming New Year.
(from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)
Thanks so much for your site! It is brain candy!
(a reader in North Carolina)
I Love your site probably a little too much. I enjoy the commentary
and the links to the original articles.
(a civil engineer in New York)
Ive had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for
18 months now, and I can truthfully say that its one of the best on the Internet,
and I check in several times a week. The constant stream of new information on
such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and
humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring. Im pleased
that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to
producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.
(a community safety manager in England)
I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with
information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution. It gives me
ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom. I am tired of the evolutionary
dogma. I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.
(a science teacher in Alabama)
If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence
collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.
(a former Christian software distributor, location not disclosed)
...the Creation Headlines is the best. Visiting your site...
is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.
(a retired Air Force Chaplain)
I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it. I read
the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and
tell others about it. I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and
(a USF grad in biology)
Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because
of the excellent commentary I find. Because of the breadth and depth of erudition
apparent in the commentaries, I hope Im not being presumptuous in suspecting
the existence of contributions from a Truth Underground comprised of
dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers. If thats
not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized. Regardless,
I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards
us from the specialist as well as popular press.
(a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)
Im from Quebec, Canada. I have studied in pure sciences and after in actuarial mathematics.
Im visiting this site 3-4 times in a week. Im learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!
(a French Canadian reader)
I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.
(a reader in the Air Force)
You have a unique position in the Origins community.
Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.
You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.
(a pediatrician in California)
Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.
(a reader in western Canada)
I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.
It is truly a blessing!
(a reader in North Carolina)
I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website. I find
it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science
news daily) and also to research particular topics.
(an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)
I would just like to say very good job with the work done here,
very comprehensive. I check your site every day. Its great
to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the
pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the prestigious
(a biology student in Illinois)
Ive been checking in for a long time but thought Id leave you a
note, this time. Your writing on these complex topics is insightful,
informative with just the right amount of humor. I appreciate the hard
work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then
writing intelligently about them.
(an investment banker in California)
Keep up the great work. You are giving a whole army of Christians
plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).
Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not
scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney
for years and years.
(a reader in Arizona)
Keep up the outstanding work!
You guys really ARE making a difference!
(a reader in Texas)
I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that science is not
hostile towards religion. It is the dogmatically religious that are
unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their
dearly-held precepts. Science (real, open-minded science) is not
interested in theological navel-gazing.
Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in. Anonymous attacks
only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.
This one was shown to display a bad example.
I appreciate reading your site every day. It is a great way to keep
up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the
evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful
way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also
to research particular topics.
(an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)
I love your website.
(a student at a state university who used CEH when
writing for the campus newsletter)
....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly
well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.
Im sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much
about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you
skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not
(a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to
the 09/10/2002 headline)
I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of
exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant,
up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account
is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.
(a reader, location unknown)
You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper,
and digesting it into understandable terms.
(a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked
on the Manhattan Project)
After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru
your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate
the effort you have put forth.
The information is properly documented, and coming from
recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable. Your
explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY
to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate
interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the readers
(a reader in Michigan)
I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.
(reader location and occupation unknown)
I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let
you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!
We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have
the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.
Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the
Truth have not gone unnoticed. Keep up the great work!
(a PhD scientist involved in origins research)
You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.
The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it
requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and
to keep the reviews current.... I hope you can continue your
excellent Web pages. I have recommended them highly to others.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article
that will spark a spirited debate. Keep em
coming! The Truth will prevail.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
Thanks for your web page and work. I try to drop by
at least once a week and read what you have. Im a
Christian that is interested in science (Im a mechanical
engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.
I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.
(a year later):
I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which Ive probably done for a couple
of years. I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can
learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.
(a production designer in Kentucky)
I look up CREV headlines every day. It is a wonderful
source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of
discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of
scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.
Please keep it up. Your website is the best I know of.
(a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)
Ive written to you before, but just wanted to say again
how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.
I check it almost every day and often share the contents
(and web address) with lists on which I participate.
I dont know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful
for your energy and knowledge.
(a prominent creationist author)
I am new to your site, but I love it! Thanks for updating
it with such cool information.
(a home schooler)
I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your
brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those
who think themselves wise.
(a reader from Southern California)
I love to read your website and am disappointed when there is
nothing new to read. Thanks for all your hard work.
(a missionary in Japan)
I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media,
and enjoy your commentary immensely. I consider your web site to be the
most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.
(a reader from Ontario, Canada)
Keep up the good work! I thoroughly enjoy your site.
(a reader in Texas)
Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going. It is very
informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive
(a reader in North Carolina)
Great site! For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a
great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.
(a reader in the Netherlands)
Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.
For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the
Intelligent Design members....
(a PhD organic chemist)
opening a can of worms ... I love to click all the related links and
read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late
for something else. But its ALWAYS well worth it!!
(a leader of a creation group)
I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed
by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.
I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions
evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical
doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in
the discussion living systems and processes. Your website continually
reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the
existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable
(a medical doctor)
A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.
I told him CreationSafaris.com.
(a PhD geologist)
I love your site... I check it every day for interesting
information. It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but
now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all
their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.
(a college grad)
Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments
on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)
visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it. Great job!!!
(I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)
I like what I seevery
much. I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the
whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous
It is refreshing to read your comments. You have a knack to get to the heart of
(a reader in the Air Force).
Love your website. It has well thought out structure and will help many
through these complex issues. I especially love the
I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.
I really like your side-bar of truisms.
Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct. If I were a man of wealth, I would
support you financially.
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found
us on TruthCast.com.)
WOW. Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... Im utterly
impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy
as well as your faith.
(a mountain man in Alaska).
wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science
headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun
I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will
visit your site often daily when possible to gain the latest information
to use in my speaking engagements. Ill also do my part to help publicize
your site among college students. Keep up the good work. Your
material is appreciated and used.
(a college campus minister)
Featured Creation Scientist for April
Sir Francis Bacon
1561 - 1626
Is Christian philosophy good for science? In this series we showcase many examples, but
the case could hardly be made stronger than to point to Mr. Scientific Method himself, Sir
Although not a practicing scientist, Bacon is considered by many historians to be the
founder of modern science. His philosophy and writings were largely
responsible for igniting the scientific revolution in the 17th century. Numerous
intellectuals like Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton seized on the new philosophy of
Bacon that emphasized empiricism and induction. Casting aside dependence on
authorities like Aristotle, the new science exploded on the scene, yielding a wealth of
discoveries and inventions that has continued unabated to this day. But this new
philosophy was really nothing new; it was a return to the principles of the Bible.
The founder of modern science was a Bible-believing Christian, and Christian
doctrine was the foundation of his thinking.
A recent book makes the connection between Bacon and the Bible clear. John Henry, a
science history professor at Edinburgh University, has just written (2002) a biography of Bacon
called Knowledge is Power: How Magic, the Government and an Apocalyptic Vision
Inspired Francis Bacon to Create Modern Science. Henry claims that Sir Francis
Bacon, who according to traditional wisdom invented modern science, was
motivated by magic (read: Christian faith), government (read: knowledge for
practical good of mankind) and apocalyptic vision (meaning, a literal belief in
the prophecy of Daniel 12:4, Many will go to and fro, and knowledge will be
increased). In a review of the book in the August 22, 2002 issue of Nature, Alan
Bacon firmly believed that he was living in the era in which the scriptures
predicted that knowledge would increase beyond all recognition. Had not the past
decades seen crucial advances in learning, warfare and navigation, in the form (respectively) of
the printing press, gunpowder and the magnetic compass, he asked? Part of his
Instauratio Magna was entitled Parasceve, the Greek word for preparation, but
particularly the day of preparation for the Sabbath, the ultimate Sabbath of the Day of
Judgement. What else can the prophet mean... in speaking about the last
times? Bacon asked rhetorically in his Refutation of Philosophies in 1608.
Does he not imply that the passing to and fro or perambulation of the round earth and the
increase or multiplication of science were destined to the same age and
Stewart continues, Perhaps the most compelling section of the book deals with Bacon's
magic, by which Henry means religion. Here he makes a more convincing
case than many for the profoundly religious underpinning of Bacons philosophical
project. Notice that neither Stewart nor Henry are Christian apologists, but both
here recognize that the Bible had a direct impact on the scientific revolution. Like a spark
to a fuse, the Bible ignited in Bacons mind a dream of a new instrument, a Novum
Organum, that could lead to an increase of knowledge, just as the Bible predicted for the last
The essence of Baconian philosophy is induction: instead of deducing the nature of Nature from
authorities like Aristotle and Galen, scientists should build from the ground up. Gather
facts. Measure things. Collect and organize observational evidence, then build a
hypothesis to explain them. Test all hypotheses against the facts. Bacon was
convinced this method would provide a more certain path to truth than trust in fallible human
reason, and would issue in a golden age of discovery. The scientific method we learn in
school is largely Baconian: gather observations, make a hypothesis to explain them, test the
hypothesis, and reject all causes inconsistent with the observations. Hypotheses that pass
empirical tests can advance to theories and laws.
Philosophy of science has changed and matured quite a bit since Bacon, and philosophers
continue to debate what constitutes science vs pseudoscience. The Baconian ideal seems
a little simplistic and impractical; we now recognize the need for scientific theories to make
predictions, and the requirement for falsifiability in hypotheses. No matter; the value of
Bacons method was seen in its fruits: major new discoveries in chemistry, physics,
biology and astronomy; the founding of new branches of science; the overturning of long-held
false beliefs, and new institutions like the Royal Society. One of the ironies of history
was that the other Bacon in our series (Roger Bacon), had promoted the same value of experimental
science three and a half centuries earlier. It would make a good research project to look
for any connections or influences of Roger on Sir Francis, other than that they were both
But doesnt the rejection of authority shoot down Bacons own belief in the
authority of the Bible? Skeptics sometimes portray early Christian founders of science as
closet doubters who made a show of Christian piety to keep out of trouble. According to
this view, Bacon sugar-coated his scientific philosophy with Biblical words to make it more
palatable to the religious authorities. If that were so, Bacon would not have written
elegant poetry, apparently from the depths of his soul, praising God and the Bible. John
Henry makes no such intimation that Bacon was a hypocrite. From his research, the
Biblical world view was the foundation of Bacons scientific philosophy, not its
pretext. Interestingly, continental scholars like Descartes and some more skeptical of the
Bible disagreed with Bacons advocacy of induction and empiricism, placing more value
on human reason.
But again, what of Biblical authority? To Francis Bacon, the Bible provided a view of
God, the world, and man that made science a noble duty. Nature was Gods finely
crafted machine, and God had given man the aptitude and duty to discover its workings.
Human reason alone was insufficient; it needed to be guided by Bible doctrine on the nature of
God and the world, and by observation of the Creators laws. The very belief in
natural laws was a legacy of the Scriptures. Sir Francis believed that, in fulfillment of
Daniels prophecy, man would increase in knowledge in the last days by casting off
unbiblical authorities like Aristotle and investigating Gods natural revelation (creation)
with minds that had been created in His image.
Consider again the Biblical basis of the three foundations of Bacons philosophy
described in the title of Henrys biography: (1) magic (a poor choice of
words), meaning religious belief, which Stewart calls a profound underpinning
of Bacons philosophy; (2) government, underscoring the God-given
responsibility of governments to work for the good of the people; (3) apocalyptic
vision, the belief that Daniels prophecy should inspire us to advance knowledge
for the good of mankind. While the Bible does not propose a scientific method, it
provides the fundamental view of God, man, and the world that makes scientific progress both
possible and desirable. The works of the Lord are great, writes the author
of Psalm 111:2, studied by all who delight in them.
King Solomon, for example, was an early spare-time scientist. He busied himself with
gaining knowledge about all kinds of animals, plants, birds, insects and fish (I Kings 4:33-
34). His Proverbs are filled with admonitions to gain knowledge and wisdom.
Though in his old age Solomon considered the search for knowledge as one of the vanity
of vanities, (Eccl 1:13-18), unattainable (8:16-17) and an endless drudgery (12:12), it
was only so if pursued without thought of creation and final judgment (Eccl. 11:9-12:1).
To ones own heart, the reward of wisdom justified its pursuit (7:11, 12, 25).
When the Creator is foremost in mind, observation of the wonders of creation springs out of
worship Psalms 104 and 148 are good examples. Solomons peacetime
science was a natural outgrowth of the gift of wisdom and discernment God gave him (I Kings 3-
4). Bacons thinking during the Elizabethan golden age makes an interesting
Francis Bacon was no closet skeptic; for him, the Bible was the key to liberating man from the
fallible opinions of human authorities, and Genesis gave the impetus to take seriously our
God-given role as stewards of creation. That included doing science. He viewed
atheism as plebeian: A little philosophy inclineth mans mind to atheism,
he quipped, but depth of philosophy bringeth a mans mind about to
religion. (To an Elizabethan, religion was synonymous with Christianity.)
Similarly, he said Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt; when
thoroughly explored, it dispels it. In a statement congruent with the modern
Intelligent Design Movement, he declared, I had rather believe all the fables in the
legends and the Talmud and the Alcoran [Koran], than that this universal frame is without a
mind. For Francis Bacon, science was an act of worship as well as a shield against
falsehood. He said, There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our
falling into error: first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the
volume of the Creatures, which express His power.
Sir Francis Bacon is more remembered for his ideas than his life. He was born in London
in 1561 after the recent accession of Elizabeth I, when English society was taking a dramatic
upturn. A contemporary of Galileo, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis
Drake, Bacon worked not as a scientist, but as a lawyer and politician, becoming a barrister in
1582 and a member of the House of Commons in 1584. He was knighted in 1603 under
the newly-crowned King James I, and advanced to Solicitor General, Attorney General, and by
1618, Lord Chancellor. Unfortunately, he sullied his reputation in 1621 by taking a
litigants bribe. Though he had been entangled in a struggle between the King and
Parliament, he admitted to the corruption and had to resign in disgrace. He entered the
world without riches; his youth had been poor, penniless at 18 when his father died; his old age
saw the loss of his fortune and reputation. He died in 1626, apparently doing experiments
to illustrate his devotion to empirical science; he caught a chill collecting snow, in hopes of
determining the preservation powers of cold on meat. In all, Bacons life and
career were rather unremarkable; his personal character was by no means
admirable, according to Frederic R. White. He made no significant scientific
discoveries nor uncovered any scientific laws. But his ideas were profound, reflective of
deep thought and genius.
Bacon was a philosopher of the first order, influencing Western civilization for centuries, even
though in his day he was roundly criticized by other philosophers. He referred to his
critics as Men of sharp wits, shut up in their cells of a few authors, chiefly Aristotle, their
Dictator. Rather than rehashing old ideas with deductive reason, Bacon
advocated the fresh examination of particulars, i.e., gathering evidence by
experiment and then making interpretations, rather than deducing the nature of the particulars
from universal forms and principles. Encyclopedia Britannica explains that he
was no raw Empiricist; he believed in formulating laws and generalizations; His
enduring place in the history of philosophy lies, however, in his single-minded advocacy of
experience as the only source of valid knowledge and in his profound enthusiasm for the
perfection of natural science. Most of Bacons philosophical writing was
done late in life his first work, The Advancement of Learning (1605) at age 44;
his greatest work Novum Organum (part of a larger planned work) in 1620 (age 59),
writing more till his death at age 65, with some additional works published posthumously.
Like Pascal, Bacon had a flair for the piquant proverb. His eponyms are words fitly
spoken, like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11). Here are
some examples to get a taste of his thinking:
More than entries for Readers Digest Quotable Quotes, however,
Bacons words carried a vision of the New Atlantis, the new path to knowledge
about the world. Loren Eiseley, in The Man Who Saw Through Time, said that
Bacon ...more fully than any man of his time, entertained the idea of the universe as a
problem to be solved, examined, meditated upon, rather than as an eternally fixed stage, upon
which man walked. (In a similar vein, current philosopher of science Paul Nelson
has described science within an Intelligent Design framework as an enormous puzzle-
solving expedition, in which you expect to find order and rationality right at the root of
things.) The title page of The Advancement of Learning portrays this
new science taking mankind beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the presumed limits of mans
explorations. The bottom contains the quote from Daniel 12:4, many will pass
through and knowledge will be increased. He was strongly opposed to a
priori assumptions. In that regard, a little neo-Baconian philosophy would be good in
our day. Darwinists typically assume that evolution is true, and mold the observations to
fit that assumption. A new book by Cornelius Hunter, Darwins God,
demonstrates how the alleged proofs of Darwinism are ultimately metaphysical. Whether
they talk about homology or fossils or microevolution, their observations are incidental; the
force of the arguments used by Darwinists against creation revolve around what a Creator would
or would not do. When pressed to the wall for evidence to demonstrate evolution, what
they supply cannot justify the claims made for major transformations. Francis Bacon
would be appalled.
- Knowledge is power.
- Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
- Money is like muck, not good except that it be spread.
- Discretion in speech is more than eloquence.
- Choose the life that is most useful, and habit will make it the most agreeable.
- To choose time is to save time.
- Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
- God has placed no limits to the exercise of the intellect that he has given us, on this side of the
- Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.
- The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits but not when it misses.
- A prudent question is one-half wisdom.
- Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and
- To read without reflecting, is like eating without digesting.
We stated early on that inclusion of a person in this series does not imply 100%
endorsement. The theme is that Christian thought has been good for science. In
some regards, Christians should be cautious of Baconian philosophy. Though he was not
Catholic or scholastic, Bacon apparently accepted the premise of Thomas Aquinas that the Fall
left mans reason unscathed. He also wrote, Our humanity were a poor
thing were it not for the divinity which stirs within us, and we all know how that idea can
be taken to the extreme. To the extent he meant we bear the image of God, that is
acceptable; it is unlikely Bacon doubted that humans are sinners in need of a Savior. In
addition, it might appear that Bacons advocacy of experience as the guide to truth would
militate against trust in divine revelation. Indeed, David Hume took that idea to the
limit. (The tides have turned against Hume in our time, as our uniform
experience about information and codes is forcing scientists to confront the reality of
intelligent design in DNA.) Bacon, however, was not schizophrenic about induction and
authority. He saw no dichotomy in his religious faith and advocacy of the scientific
method; like he said, depth of philosophy brings a mans mind back to religion.
With allusions to Genesis 1, he said, The first creation of God in the works of the days
was the light of the sense, the last was the light of the reason; and his Sabbath work ever since is
the illumination of the spirit. Illumination of the spirit is the work of the Holy
Spirit through the Word of God (John 16:13).
Though best known as an advocate of fact, and a sometime critic of poetry, Sir Francis Bacon
was an occasional poet himself (although it is highly unlikely he was the secret author of
Shakespeares plays, as some have alleged). More than with prose or philosophy,
poetry allows us to look into an authors soul. Was Sir Francis Bacon a
creationist? Was he a believer in the Bible, and a devout man of faith? Did he see
mans role as praising the Creator for His works? Did he himself trust in his
heavenly King and look forward to Christs eternal victory? Here is his poem
Sing a New Song. You read and decide:
SING A NEW SONG
by Sir Francis Bacon
O sing a new song, to our God above,
Avoid profane ones, tis for holy choir:
Let Israel sing song of holy love
To him that made them, with their hearts on fire:
Let Zions sons lift up their voice, and sing
Carols and anthems to their heavenly king.
Let not your voice alone his praise forth tell,
But move withal, and praise him in the dance;
Cymbals and harps, let them be tuned well,
Tis he that doth the poors estate advance:
Do this not only on the solemn days,
But on your secret beds your spirits raise.
O let the saints bear in their mouth his praise,
And a two-edged sword drawn in their hand,
Therewith for to revenge the former days,
Upon all nations, that their zeal withstand;
To bind their kings in chains of iron strong,
And manacle their nobles for their wrong.
Expect the time, for tis decreed in heaven,
Such honor shall unto his saints be given.
If you are enjoying this series, you can
learn more about great Christians in science by reading
our online book-in-progress:
The Worlds Greatest
Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
Copies are also
available from our online store.
A Concise Guide|
You can observe a lot by just watching.
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.
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
So will Darwinists.
Science is true. Dont be misled by facts.
Finagles 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.
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.
Murphys Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.
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.
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon
is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.
Peters Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.
Repetition does not establish validity.
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts not the facts themselves.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
Thumbs Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.
There is nothing so small that it cant 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.
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.
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
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,
Wisdoms fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.
James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).
Disclaimer: Creation-Evolution Headlines includes links
to many external sites, but takes no responsibility for the
accuracy or legitimacy of their content. Inclusion of an
external link is strictly for the readers convenience,
and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of
the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.|