Creation-Evolution Headlines
November 2006
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“I heartily wish I was more worthy to receive it, by understanding more of the deep & important subject of political economy.  Though our studies have been so different, I believe that we both earnestly desire the extension of knowledge & that this in the long run is sure to add to the happiness of mankind.” 
—Charles Darwin to Karl Marx, 1873, upon receiving a copy of Das Kapital inscribed, “Mr. Charles Darwin on the part of his sincere admirer Karl Marx.”  Cited by Janet Browne in Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton 2002, p. 403). An estimated 148 million people perished under communist regimes (see 11/30/2005 entry).
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SETI a Descendant of OOL   11/30/2006    
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) may seem a different subject than origin of life (OOL), but researchers in both depend on each other’s assumptions.  The common bond is illustrated in a SETI article on Space.com today.  Devon Burr of the SETI institute wrote an article not about intelligent aliens trying to broadcast signals to us, but about Saturn’s moon Titan, where no aliens are known to exist.  Let Burr explain the connection himself:

As we search for extraterrestrial life, Earth in some sense always provides our framework.  The data indicate that life does in fact exist on this planet, and it existed here sometime before about 3.5 billion years ago (give or take a couple hundred million years).  However, thanks to plate tectonics and other pesky processes, we’re missing some critical information about this early time.  This includes information about how life got started on Earth.
    Titan may come to our rescue....
As many astrobiologists have asserted, Titan is supposed to resemble the early Earth in deep freeze.  The “chemical evolution” taking place there may provide clues to how life supposedly arose here out of a primitive soup.  Probably, it never got very far because of the cold on Titan, where water cannot exist as a liquid.  He mentions that a few astrobiologists still hold out hope that some kind of exotic life based on methane or ethane chemistry may have evolved there.  Still, it’s a long way to amphioxus as well as from it (02/23/2006), but that should not be a problem for natural selection, given enough time.
    At the end of the article, Burr states, “continued spacecraft investigation of Titan may tell use about life on Earth in the ancient past.  In the exploration for life, Titan and Earth symbolize spatial and temporal symbiosis.
    The January 2007 issue of Sky and Telescope arrived on newsstands and contains a story that could be called the flip side of Burr’s interplanetary symbiosis.  Its provocative cover story is, “Is the Earth contagious?”  Selby Cull speculates about “reverse panspermia,” the idea that microbial life on Earth could have migrated to the other planets of our solar system – including Titan.  Large meteor impacts could have lofted material into orbit that eventually found its way to Mars, Europa or other planets or moons, complete with bacterial hitchhikers.  So even if future astronauts detect life on Titan, it might have a familiar genetic signature.
    Selby Cull assumes that such a meteor impact wiped out the dinosaurs, clearing ecological niches for mammals – a claim that is highly controversial (10/24/2006).  So, for presenting that as fact, among other flights of fancy, he wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for his ending lines: “If one day we find fossil bacteria on another world, will genetic testing be able to distinguish a citizen of Titan from an expatriate from Earth?  Depending on what we find, we may never be able to tell whether they are truly aliens or just exiled earthlings – displaced by the very catastrophe that made human life possible.
There is a continuum of belief from big bangers to astrobiologists to chemical evolutionists to Darwinian biologists to SETI researchers.  They are all blood brothers sharing a common mythology.  A phylogenetic search of the evolution memes show that astrobiologists and SETI enthusiasts and complete wackos spring from a common ancestor.  They will believe anything, make the wildest unsupported statements, and uniformly ignore evidence for design that stares them in the face.  Their eyes and ears appear to be tuned to mystical fantasies incomprehensible to reasonable humans.  Maybe they are from another planet.
Next headline on:  SETIOrigin of LifeSolar System
The Nature of Cellular Tech    11/30/2006  
For molecule-size entities working in the dark, cellular machines seem pretty clever.  Here are some tricks they perform day and night to keep life functioning, described this month in Nature and PNAS.  Cell biology is sounding more and more like a mixture of Popular Mechanics and Wired.
  1. Energy balancing act:  Cells have to use oxygen without being burned by it.  In Nature 11/09,1 Toren Finkel described the delicate way mitochondria deal with their explosive fuel without polluting their environment. 
    Much like any factory producing widgets, mitochondria consume carbon-based fuels.  Their product is ATP, the energy currency of the cell.  Nonetheless, just like factory smokestacks, mitochondria also release potentially harmful by-products into their environment.  For mitochondria, these toxins come in the form of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that include superoxide and hydrogen peroxide.  In turn, these oxidants can interact with other radical species or with transition metals to produce by-products that are even more damaging.  To combat ROS production, the cell has evolved a number of sophisticated antioxidant defences, including enzymes such as superoxide dismutase to scavenge superoxide, as well as catalase and glutathione peroxidase to degrade hydrogen peroxide.
    Finkel did not explain how these sophisticated mechanisms might have evolved, except to assert that mitochondria are “tiny and evolutionarily ancient energy-producing organelles.”  He did consider a claim that they contain a “design flaw” because they leak measurable amounts of reactive oxygen species.  Is this a bug or a feature?
    If ROS synthesis is so bad, and a molecular solution so apparently straightforward, why has this 'design flaw' not been eradicated during the billions of years of evolution?  There are many possible answers, but one is that the notion that ROS from the mitochondria are solely harmful could be incorrect.  Indeed, substantial evidence exists that ROS generated in the cytoplasm could have vital signalling functions, and this might also be true for oxidants derived from mitochondria.
    On closer inspection, then, it appears that “a homeostatic loop exists between mitochondria and ROS and that this loop is, at least in part, orchestrated by PGC-1alpha.”  This, in turn, stimulates the production of more oxidant-sweeping molecular machines.
  2. Codes within codes:  Helen Pearson wrote a thought-provoking article in Nature 11/16 entitled “Genetic information; Codes and enigmas.”2  The idea is that there is “more than one way to read a stretch of DNA.”  Biologists have been searching for hidden meanings in the repetitive and non-coding regions and are turning up codes within the genetic code that affect regulation and expression of genes.  The way that DNA is packaged around nucleosomes appears an integral part of the message system.  As to how these codes allegedly evolved, she simply asserted that it did, and personified evolution as a designing hand:
    This elegance is surely the handiwork of evolution – and if the way in which that hand had worked to solve these problems were clearer, the simultaneous decoding of all the messages involved might become easierPerhaps ancestral organisms had simpler sequence patterns that evolution has optimized, taking advantage of its degeneracy to layer in additional information that helped organisms acquire extra complexity.  Hanspeter Herzel, who specializes in statistical analyses of DNA at Humboldt University, Berlin, speculates that the space constraints of the cell may have favoured the development of nucleosomes that wound up unruly DNA – and that their existence then encouraged the evolution of a nucleosome code in the sequence because this lowered the energetic cost of coiling up DNA.  But as yet such ideas, and any help they might offer, remain tentative.  “We don’t really have a phylogeny of these signals,” he says.
    Next, Pearson considered that some of the stretches of apparently meaningless code have no biological function at all: they are just there.  This approach, though, she finds distasteful: “But to some people the thought of order with no meaning is an affront.  To such minds, the idea of teasing out nature’s secrets with little more than mathematical cunning and processing power will never lose its allure.”  Stay tuned.
  3. Enzyme ballet:  Proteins and enzymes often work in complexes.  How do the parts dance without stepping on each other’s toes?  How do they get together on a crowded, active dance floor?  Two biologists considered this problem in the same 11/16 issue of Nature.3  Pick your favorite analogy; choreography or electrical engineering:
    Living cells, particularly during growth and proliferation, need regulatory processes of great sensitivity and high specificity.  To achieve this, signal-to-noise ratios must be high when information is received and transmitted between the cell surface, the cytoplasm and the nucleus.  Just like electrical and engineering control systems, living cells have complex signalling pathways that are moderated by feedback mechanisms.  It is becoming increasingly clear that most switches, transducers and adaptors in living systems are created by the assembly and disassembly of multi-component complexes of proteins, nucleic acids and other molecules....
        How do the molecular assemblies in cells achieve the required sensitivity and specificity?  Efficient signal transduction must maintain fidelity and decrease noise while amplifying the signal.  So the solution cannot be explained in terms of tightly bound, enduring molecular complexes, because the signals could not then be turned off.  Rather, it seems to lie in first assembling weak binary complexes, and then using cooperative interactions to produce multi-component complexes in which the weak interactions are replaced by much stronger and more specific interactions.
        Although weak, nonspecific, transient complexes could give rise to a noisy system, such ‘encounter complexes’ might be exploited so that interaction partners do not have to be found afresh in the busy milieu of the cell, thus increasing the rate of formation of specific binary and higher-order complexes.  Essentially, the partners bump into one another and are held loosely, allowing them time to become reorientated and repositioned on the surface or to adjust their shape to fit together more tightly.  Recent studies are beginning to describe the dynamics of the assembly processes and to show that nonspecific, transient collisions play an important role in macromolecular associations.
    How this is accomplished is discussed in more detail in the paper.  Sounds a bit like electrical robots in a random dance that, on average, brings partners together with the right chemistry such that they get a brief charge out of the bond before trying other players.
  4. Trigger finger:  There’s a chaperone in some bacteria called “trigger factor.”  This machine was discussed by Ada Yonah in Nature 11/23,4 summarizing a couple of papers in the issue.  He pictured it like a clamshell that attaches to the exit tunnel of the ribosome.  As a nascent polypeptide emerges, there is a risk that the hydrophobic amino acid residues, like magnets, will stick to the wrong stuff in the cell and create a tangled mess.  The trigger-factor clamshell forms a shelter around the exit tunnel, watching for these hydrophobic residues.  When one pops out, it gloms onto it and lets go of the ribosome, protecting it from the intercellular medium, until the polypeptide can fold properly into its finished shape.  The next trigger-factor chaperone takes its place on the exit tunnel for the next hydrophobic residue.  When folding proceeds, the clamshell opens up and goes back to the exit tunnel to look for more.  There’s an excess of trigger factor chaperones at all times.  “This means that there is a continuous supply of trigger factor to protect a nascent chain,” Yonah explains.
  5. Not a simple needle prick:  Two biologists described the “needle-nosed pump” known as Type-3 Secretion System (T3SS) in the Nov 30 issue of Nature.5  Though this machine, composed of 20 protein parts, shares some components with the famous bacterial flagellum, the authors did not dwell on this relationship but explained what else is known so far about T3SS.  For one thing, it is much more complex than previously realized.  Though it resembles somewhat a hypodermic syringe, the protein cargo it delivers is not just a needle prick into the host.  A complex delivery channel is assembled at the tip.  Moreover, assembly of the basal body and needle complex follows elaborate feedback mechanisms; the length of the needle complex is specifically controlled by either a “measuring cup” in the C-ring basal complex, or a “molecular ruler” in the channel or some other control method, such that the tip does not grow too long or too short.  The machine also has to be built to the right diameter such that the substrate protein can pass through.
        The T3SS is implicated in many pathogenic bacteria, like Yersinia pestis, bubonic plague.  Bacteria seem able to mimic the function of host proteins with substrates that function similarly without sequence similarity.  Though the authors attribute this to “convergent evolution,” they open the possibility that the needle shots these bacteria give to eukaryotic cells can be beneficial.  Why would bacteria mimic the legitimate proteins in a host?  The authors say, “this strategy seems appropriate to have been adapted by bacteria that have type III secretion systems as a central element for the establishment of a close functional interface that is often symbiotic in nature.
        Much remains to be learned about T3SS.  The authors seem genuinely excited about the potential for understanding disease transmission and bacterial-eukaryote interactions through the continued elaboration of these molecular mechanisms.  The 3-D diagrams look like something manufactured in a machine shop.  The authors seem to think machine language is the appropriate code for describing them; they called these things “machines” 42 times.  Let their ending paragraph express their enthusiasm:
    The discovery of type III secretion machines has arguably been one of the most significant discoveries in bacterial pathogenesis of the past few years.  The widespread distribution of such a macromolecular machine and its use in rather diverse biological contexts is a testament to the success of the evolutionary forces working to shape the complex functional interface between pathogenic or symbiotic bacteria and their eukaryotic hosts.  Its central role in the interaction of many pathogenic bacteria opens up the possibility of developing new anti-infective strategies.  In addition, a detailed understanding of these machines is allowing them to be harnessed to deliver heterologous proteins for therapeutic or vaccine purposes.  The past few years have seen a rather remarkable increase in the understanding of these machines.  There is no doubt that the importance and intrinsic beauty of these fascinating machines will continue to attract the attention of scientists and therefore progress is likely to continue at an even faster pace.
  6. Centriole olé:  Tiny devices called centrioles are vital to all life, because they duplicate each cell division and are intimately involved in it: “Centrioles are necessary for flagella and cilia formation, cytokinesis, cell-cycle control and centrosome organization/spindle assembly,” wrote 5 biologists in Nature 11/30.6  How the little machines duplicate themselves has been unclear.  “Here we show using electron tomography of staged C. elegans [roundworm] one-cell embryos that daughter centriole assembly begins with the formation and elongation of a central tube followed by the peripheral assembly of nine singlet microtubules,” they announced.  Various other proteins trigger, regulate, signal and terminate the process.
         Their models of the centrioles resemble cylinders lined by equally-spaced rods on the outside.  The shape can be discerned in the photographs.  “The structure of centrioles is conserved [i.e., unevolved] from ancient eukaryotes to mammals,” they noted, saying also at the end of the paper, “It is therefore likely that some of the assembly intermediates uncovered here in C. elegans are conserved in mammals and other eukaryotes.”
        As they reproduce, the daughter centrioles grow at a perpendicular angle to the mother.  How this all happens is mysterious, but you can watch movies of these geometric structures emerging out of the cell matrix in the supplementary materials of the paper.  The authors superimpose models of the centrioles to aid the visualization of a mechanical process just now coming into focus.  To watch machinery 400 billionths of a meter in size assembling itself in a living cell is a harbinger of exciting days ahead for cell biology.  For more on the lab roundworm C. elegans, visit our 06/25/2006 entry, and try counting the number of times “information” is used.
  7. Spectacrobatics:  Three scientists from U of Maryland, publishing in PNAS7, employed a dramatic word rarely seen in a scientific paper while trying to figure out the interactions of another famous chaperone, the GroES-GroEL complex.  They described a particular flip of a helix in the enzymes as “spectacular.”  They used the word not only in the abstract but in the body of the paper, and added a synonym for emphasis.  A coordinated switch between a network of salt-bridges in the enzyme produced what they called a “dramatic” outside-in movement.  Must be quite a show.  Now playing in a cell inside you.
  8. Dynein truckers:  In the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Michael Behe spoke of molecular trucks that carry cargo from one end of the cell to the other.  One of these trucks has a motor called dynein.  To show that Behe was not exaggerating, read a press release on EurekAlert.  It tells how a team of scientists U of North Carolina School of Medicine tried to figure out the power stroke of these little engines.  In describing the way the enzyme exerts mechanical force by converting chemical energy (in the form of ATP) into mechanical energy, they also used the transportation metaphor.  The article says, “the dynein puzzle is similar to figuring out how auto engines make cars move.”  One of the researchers continued, “You have an engine up front that burns gas, but we didn’t know how the wheels are made to move.”
        What’s interesting is that the gas tank is quite a ways from the wheels; that means that the chemical energy must be transmitted over a substantial distance from where the power stroke actually occurs (if you consider a few nanometers a substantial distance).  The truck is a speedster, too: “We saw it could allow a very rapid transduction of chemical energy into mechanical energy,” he said.  That’s good, because there’s nanotons of work for a trucker in Cellville.  “Conversion to mechanical energy allows dynein to transport cellular structures such as mitochondria that perform specific jobs such as energy generation, protein production and cell maintenance.  Dynein also helps force apart chromosomes during cell division.”  So the truck has as a good winch, too.
        These results were published in PNAS.8  Search on dynein above for more facts about these heavy lifters of the cell world, especially 02/25/2003 and 02/13/2003.  Also interesting are the entries from 12/02/2004 and 04/13/2005.  But then, 07/12/2004 might just blow you away.
Speaking of Wired, the pop-technology website actually posted a story recently called “Mother Nature’s Nanotech.”  Click here to see examples of cells that “will work for food.”  Why reinvent the wheel?  “Nature has everything nailed down already.  Single-celled organisms are everywhere, and some slave-driving scientists have figured out that if you hitch ’em to microdevices and nanocargo, these bugs can be dragooned into doing all kinds of work.  It’s time to domesticate the microworld.  Mush, you Escherichia coli! Mush!”  (See 09/06/2006).
1Toren Finkel, “Cell biology: A clean energy programme,” Nature 444, 151-152 (9 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444151a.
2Helen Pearson, “Genetic information: Codes and enigmas,” Nature 444, 259-261 (16 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444259a.
3Tom L. Blundell and Juan Fernandez-Recio, “Cell biology: Brief encounters bolster contacts,” Nature 444, 279-280 (16 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05306.
4Ada Yonah, “Molecular biology: Triggering positive competition,” Nature 444, 435-436 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444435a.
5Jorge E. Galan and Hans Wolf-Watz, “Protein delivery into eukaryotic cells by type III secretion machines,” Nature 444, 567-573 (30 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05272.
6Pelletier et al, “Centriole assembly in Caenorhabditis elegans,” Nature 444, 619-623 (30 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05318.
7Hyeon, Lorimer and Thirumalai, “Dynamics of allosteric transitions in GroEL,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 29, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0608759103.
8Serohijos et al, “A structural model reveals energy transduction in dynein,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 22, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0602867103.
Need we say more?  You see the contrast between the exciting scientific work of investigating a world of technology at the limits of our grasp, alongside evolutionary speculations that are just plain silly.  “This elegance is surely the handiwork of evolution,” Pearson says, after describing a coded information and communication system more sophisticated than any software design we know.  Such pop-evo lingo contributes nothing to the science of these reports.  It’s just added after the fact, like trying to attach a sticky-note to a fountain, and does nothing but pollute it.
    This morning on the radio, atheists Lawrence Krauss and Sam Harris were claiming that ”People of Faith” who dare to believe “irrational” religious claims and deny evolution are dangerous and making America lose its edge in the scientific world.  They urged people to trust their minds to the pronouncements of “science” which is based on “evidence” (revealing their ignorance of philosophy of science, that they would still embrace logical positivism).  A scientist called in and said his faith was supported by evidence, not just faith.  Another caller rightly noted how many times scientists have changed their views, and how many scientists did great work because of their religion.  It’s the evolutionists who push their own faith in spite of the evidence, she said.  She ended her concise and intelligently-worded comeback by saying she didn’t have enough faith to be an atheist.  Nowhere is blind faith more exposed than in these articles, and many more like them reported in these pages, where high technology is simply assumed to arise by evolution, without any logic, reason or evidence to support it.
    Kudos to the researchers who are continuing to uncover these marvels.  Take the Darwinspeak out and you will do better.  The People of Froth need to understand that the age of biological machines will not endure simplistic Darwinian explanations any longer.  People sense the tension between the discoveries about biological machinery and the generalities in evolutionary tall tales.  Facts have stretched Darwinian faith to the breaking point.  The abrupt appearance of high technology in the simplest of organisms is not “evolutionary conservation,” it is creation.  The widespread incidence of similar technologies between disparate groups is not “convergent evolution,” it is common design.  When all the evolutionists can do is make religious arguments and get emotional, you know the Age of Darwin is over.  Welcome to the Information Age.  To be on the cutting edge, earn your degree at Celltech U (06/25/2006).
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsAmazing Facts
All you need to know about the "RNA World," from 07/11/2002.  How many show-stoppers does it take?  Try 21.

Evolutionary Ethics Teeters on Brave New World    11/29/2006  
What happens when science pursues whatever it can do, unfettered by moral standards?  Three recent news stories should cause all futurists to ponder the ramifications:

  • A BBC News story this month asked, “UK scientists are seeking permission to place human nuclei into animal eggs in a bid to create stem cell lines.  Why do researchers believe the intermingling of species could be vital to science?”  The article describes how research on animal-animal chimeras is turning toward human-animal chimeras, such as implanting human cells in mice to see what happens.  The research is ostensibly for the purpose of understanding development and curing disease, but further down, the article vacillates about the moral dilemmas involved:
    One of the latest chimeras to hit the headlines was created by scientists in Korea.  They sparked controversy when they injected human embryonic stem cells into developing mouse embryos.
        The finding that these the cells were then distributed throughout the mouse’s body, including the brain, caused public outrage, and the scientists later abandoned the experiments as the protests increased.
        But as ethically difficult as this research seems, these scientists said they believed it could add a great deal to our knowledge of how embryos develop.
        The creation of chimeras forces us to reconsider just what it really means to be human, and the answer to this is not clear cut.
  • Another BBC News announced that a lab in London has applied for a license to create human-cow embryos.  While implanting animal tissue in a human, such as a pig heart transplant, has only a mild “yuck factor,” these experiments involve embryos with the full complement of DNA to constitute an individual.  But is a chimera considered a person?  If the embryo is grown only for harvesting its stem cells for medical research, does the end justify the means?  Not all think so.  Calum McKellar of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics is concerned about blurring the line between humans and animals.  “In this kind of procedure, you are mixing at a very intimate level animal eggs and human chromosomes, and you may begin to undermine the whole distinction between humans and animals,” he said.  “If that happens, it might also undermine human dignity and human rights.

  • Richard Dawkins recently said that eugenics might not be so bad.  Nancy Pearcey commented on his statements.  The prominent atheist stressed that we need to “lay this spectre to rest,” speaking of Hitler’s plan to breed a master race.  He feels that “if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?”  Lawrence Ford also wrote a commentary on this item for ICR.
The history of the early 20th century shows that eugenics began with good intentions.  Many philosophers and scientists wanted to prevent needless suffering.  Social Darwinists were concerned about harmful traits corrupting the human gene pool.  This led to attempts to prevent breeding by those with genetic diseases, mental illnesses and criminal records.  When that didn’t work, thousands were forcibly sterilized against their will and without their consent.  Hitler began his infamous purges modestly.  He first eliminated the mentally ill and others who were considered a drain on healthy society.  Once the precedent was set of considering some human beings unfit to live, the campaign expanded to eliminate other “undesirables.”
    Speaking of chimeras, according to the current issue of Creation magazine, Stalin once sent a leading Russian scientist to Africa to try to breed humans with apes.  The plan was to create an ideal fighting force.  Presumably such “cannon fodder” could be thrown at the enemy in large numbers without qualms about human rights.  Stalin became an atheist and evolutionist after reading Darwin’s Origin of Species at a seminary where he was studying to become a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Years later, as Russian dictator, he was said to have considered the slaughter of human beings for the purposes of the state as no different than mowing a lawn.
    On November 14, a new group of scientists calling itself the Center for Inquiry issued a “Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism.”  It denounced creationism, intelligent design, religious moral influences on medicine and science, and the rise of “religious fundamentalism.”  The statement specifically denounced conservatives who impede embryonic stem-cell research and promote abstinence or faith-based programs for birth control or health, or who doubt global warming.  The list of signatories is a Who’s Who of secularists and evolutionists, including Steven Weinberg, Paul Boyer, Daniel Dennett, Ann Druyan, Donald Johanson, Lawrence Krauss, Paul Kurtz, Steven Pinker, Peter Singer and E. O. Wilson.  Peter Singer has also publicly advocated eugenics and euthanasia.
The mad scientists must be stopped.  They can and will bring about another holocaust.  If you doubt it, remember that Hitler did not act alone; he was surrounded by the most brilliant scientists of Germany (all secular evolutionists), who willingly joined his program to purify humanity.  To them, the Third Reich heralded a glorious future, a new age that would usher in unprecedented health and prosperity.  It was all for the ultimate good of society, they felt.  After the devastation of World War II, they argued that everything they did was perfectly legal within their own social and political context.  That was their defense at the Nuremberg trials.  They had not broken any laws.  The judges appealed to a higher law that they should have obeyed: their conscience – presupposing a universal standard of morality.
    It’s time to call our modern secularists what they are: Social Darwinists who have not learned from history.  Don’t trust for a moment those who believe morality evolves and is a mere social convention.  Don’t think the consequences of their policies will be nicer this time around.  If you get on the wrong side of the consensus, there will be no sanctity of your life.  It will be perfectly legal to use your body parts for the improvement of those deemed more valuable, or to eliminate you to make space for the fittest.  Those whom the new Social Darwinists have bred will, of course, be more fit, with all their mathematical ability or athletic prowess or whatever.  Naturally, they will be more worthy to consume limited resources than you, with all your diseased genes and “irrational” beliefs.  If secular science stands at the helm of moral consensus of the world, what Nuremberg will stand in judgment of them?  If the top scientists of the 1930s supported Hitler, would not today’s Dawkinses and Singers prefer, and readily support, the next smooth-talking, idealist fuhrer – the next antichrist?  Undoubtedly such a leader will entice them with all the stem cells they want, and liberal funds for cloning and chimera research.  In a secular political state, would they not consider the systematic elimination of “fundamentalists” a necessary step for the sake of planetary health and global evolution?
    Granted, the Hitler comparison gets overused.  But Hitler was a Social Darwinist, and the supporters of Hitler were Social Darwinists!  The shoe fits.  Today’s Darwinists have very overt social and political agendas based on their secular evolutionary beliefs.  What, pray tell, has changed?  Describe for us, Wilson, Dawkins and Singer, on what basis you would have protested had you been Berlin professors in 1935 when things were looking so up and up.  Tell us on what basis you will protest any future slippery-slope developments defended by your fellow secular evolutionists.  At what point would you say, as an individual, that enough is enough?  What moral arguments will you use?  On the contrary, Dawkins says we need to “lay the spectre to rest” of past abuses of eugenics and Social Darwinism, implying he’s tired of hearing “we must never forget.”
    Spectres do not lay to rest.  They must be cast out and replaced with a holy spirit.  A spectre kicked out of a secular house will return, finding it empty, swept and in good order, and will bring with him seven spectres more wicked than itself.  The final condition of that house will be worse than the first.  That is how it will be with this wicked generation, prophesied a son of man quite knowledgeable about spectres and their ways.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsEvolutionTheology
Male Nipples: Two Views    11/28/2006  
Is there a beachgoer who has not wondered why men have nipples?  Since Live Science brought it up, let’s use this as a case study on how evolutionists and creationists explain things.
  • The Evolutionist View:  Live Science claims we all start out as females in the womb, and only after about 60 days the testosterone kicks in if it’s a male.  By then, the nipples have already formed and don’t get deleted.  As to why there are nerves and blood vessels serving them, the writer appeals to the old vestigial organ argument.  There is no reason for male nipples, it’s just that natural selection hasn’t removed them yet.  The article denies that early males once suckled the young on the grounds of lack of evidence.  “Brace yourselves for a low blow, tough guy,” the article begins, hinting that the evolutionary answer won’t help a man’s self-esteem; at least it calls the nipples “harmless.”  The article ends with a link to a list of other alleged vestigial organs, including the coccyx, appendix, wisdom teeth and body hair.
  • The Creationist View:  A creationist sees a phenomenon and looks for a design or function.  Several creation sources have addressed this particular feature of the male anatomy: for example, Answers in Genesis gives a brief explanation, with reference to the book Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional by Bergman and Howe.  These authors point to the fact that the nipples are very sensitive to touch and therefore act as erogenous zones, contributing to the pleasure response during sex.  Creationists have also argued that the single developmental plan for human embryos, which later differentiates the sexes, is an example of design economy.  We don’t all start out as females.  It’s more accurate to describe the early embryo as sexless in terms of the genes expressed; males, after all, contain an X chromosome.  At the right developmental stage, the sexual differentiation genes are expressed.  AIG also has posted a debate over the issue of male nipples.
Creationists have long pointed out that the vestigial organ argument for evolution, of which this is one famous example, has been discredited (e.g., AIG and True Origin).  They say it also is a “science show-stopper.”  By assuming these traits are useless rather than applying good research to figure out what they are there for, evolutionists have hindered and delayed key insights into physiology that could have advanced medicine and increased understanding of biological design.  Some 180 body parts were considered vestigial as recently as the 1930s.  The list included organs as vital as the pituitary gland and thymus.  This fact was not mentioned on the Live Science link.
    Creationists also argue that just because a person can live without a part, like the appendix, that does not mean it is useless.  Many people alive today had their tonsils removed as kids.  Science now understands better their role in the immune system and recommends keeping them unless seriously infected.  One can live without an arm, too, and without eyes or ears, but is generally better off with everything intact.  Furthermore, some parts may be useful at different stages of life.  A part that was functional in the embryo cannot be considered vestigial if its remnants no longer function in the adult.
Let’s think outside the Darwin box, shall we?  Nipples don’t have to be for suckling the young to have a purpose.  Every human knows these points are very sensitive to touch; that’s true in both sexes.  Sex is a whole-body response God made to be pleasurable as well as procreative.  We can’t rule out, too, that certain traits have value just for decoration – that is part of their function.  Just as a navel can serve as a reminder that we all have an intimate tie to our ancestors, nipples help remind a man that he shares many traits with the female of the species, as well as having his own distinctive attributes.  Even the shared traits, though, are expressed in distinctive man-ifestations.  Women and men both have hair, too, but are the differences not interesting?  Do they not add color and variety to life?  Why does everything in nature have to be explained in terms of survival?  Some things might be part of the costume, and that is good.  A man’s chest would look kind of monotonous without those designer buttons there.  Look at them as ornaments on a fine suit.  (Looks best, guys, surrounded by lots of pectoral muscle; see YouTube.)
    This example shows that creationists and evolutionists deal with the same observational facts but look at them through different lenses.  The evolutionist sees millions of years of waste and struggle, with us latecomers having to deal with the leftovers.  Every trait must be interpreted in terms of survival and reproduction.  Sex is only to generate more aimless, purposeless carbon units.  That is a very cynical, demeaning approach to science and to life.  A creationist, by contrast, believes the Creator designed every part for its own purpose and function.  When a creation scientist doesn’t know the function, he or she is motivated to find it out.  This can and should make science a liberating and joyful exercise.  Many great scientists approached nature in just this spirit.
    Each of us, too, should strive to get over the bad vibes Darwin gave us about our bodies, and look at them in a new, positive way.  Every part is good and useful and respectable because it was designed by a Genius and Artist.  If you are embarrassed by male nipples and think they were some kind of mistake, you are disparaging the Creator.  According to the Genesis account, God looked at man and everything He had created and said it was not only good, it was very good.  Then God created woman and man said oo-la-la! where you been all my life, baby?  It’s OK to feel good about your body the way God made it.  A strong, manly chest is honorable and worthy of respect, no less the gentle curves of the woman’s bosom nursing a baby.  For each sex, for every age, there is something to honor and cherish and be thankful for.  Man or woman, boy or girl, God wants you to enjoy your body, nourish and cherish it, and use it for good.  Let’s take off the Darwin glasses and begin again to have a constructive, positive, joyful view of life.  I Timothy 4 is a fitting passage to consider along these lines, especially verse 4.
Next headline on:  Human BodyDarwinismIntelligent Design
Little Animals, Big Technologies    11/28/2006  
You can’t always say bigger is better.  In the animal world, some of the smallest critters have capabilities that belie their size and compare well with their less dimensionally-challenged brethren. 
  1. Bee secure:  Honeybees are being trained to sniff bombs.  Really.  Read all about it in a press release from Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Bees were selected because they smell good.  They have olfactory senses that rival those of dogs.  Being so small, and able to fly, they could make a big dent in the war on terror: “Based on knowledge of bee biology, the new techniques could become a leading tool in the fight against the use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which present a critical vulnerability for American military troops abroad and is an emerging danger for civilians worldwide.”  Now, if they can just get them to sting the bombers, too....
        For a whiff of what goes into a bee’s smelling sense, reread the 06/27/2006 entry on insect olfaction.  A good sense of smell seems to span the size spectrum; remember on 11/16/2006 when we learned that T. rex smelled good?  Lest you feel left out, we said on 08/31/2005 that you, too, smell like a dog.
  2. Synchronized swimming:  The cover of Science News (11/25/2006, 170:22, p. 347) is about swarming behavior.  Erica Klarreich writes, “Few people can fail to marvel at a flock of birds swooping through the evening sky, homing in with certainty on its chosen resting place.  The natural world abounds with other spectacular examples of animals moving in concert: a school of fish making a hairpin turn, an ant colony building giant highways, or locusts marching across the plains.”  We’ve all seen the anchovies moving gracefully together like a single animal, each member adjusting its motion almost instantaneously to its neighbors more gracefully and rapidly than any marching band.  How do animals do this without a drum major?  That’s the question, and the search for answers is just now becoming amenable to detailed computer modeling.
        Since swarming behavior is common among so many disparate groups, scientists suspect some simple mathematical rules underlie the phenomenon.  “Coordinated groups can range in scale from just a few individuals to billions, and they can consist of an intelligent species or one whose members have barely enough brainpower to recognize each other.”  If we learn how they do it, maybe it could help us on the morning commute.  Imagine if we could all drive without collisions on open land, without lanes or signals.  Klarreich quotes the Biblical naturalist Agur, who noted, “The locusts have no King, yet all of them march in rank” (Proverbs 30;27). 
  3. An ugly face is like a melody:  Most people would rank some bat faces as among the most hideous in the animal kingdom, appropriate only for Halloween.  Actually, bats are mostly friendly helpers who clear the air of flies and mosquitos for us.  There’s a reason for those wrinkles and protrusions, though; Charles Q. Choi writes in Live Science that scientists have discovered the facial shape modulates and focuses their sonar beams.  Different frequencies follow different paths, giving some bats wide-angle and narrow “views” of the sound field.  This is important for an animal that has to both dodge obstacles and catch food on the wing – all in the dark.
  4. Pepper spray:  Certain wasps can emit a kind of “pepper spray” defense in a fight, National Geographic News reported.  This is giving some scientists ideas about using them for natural pest controls.  Wouldn’t that make Rachel Carson happy.
Most of these little animals continue to bewilder the biggest jackasses of all – Homo sapiens.  At least, with a little hard scientific work, the lilliputians are willing to share their technological secrets with us.
All of this fascinating scientific research could be done perfectly well without evolutionary theory, using the assumptions of intelligent design.  By observing animals and plants and seeking to understand how they work, we could well learn many useful and helpful things to improve our lives – no thanks to Darwin.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyMammalsBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
ID Support from Unlikely Quarters   11/27/2006    
While Nature 11/24 described intelligent design (ID) as a threat to science, support for it came from two new scientific books reviewed in the same issue.  Both of them, while not using the phrase intelligent design, deal with concepts that imply science must reach beyond material causes.
  1. Just right universal soup:  Jim Al-Khalili (U of Surrey) reviewed Paul Davies’ new book, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Allen Lane, 2006).1  He thought it would cause the biggest stir since Roger Penrose’s book The Emperor’s New Mind (1989).  Davies explored current explanations for our finely-tuned universe, from the dismissive anthropic answers (if it weren’t this way, we wouldn’t be around to argue about it), to the latest speculations about a multiverse.  According to Al-Khalili, the first half of the book is standard fare nicely worded, but then something happens:
    But it is the second half of the book that readers will want to skip to.  It is here that he faces head-on the question of why our universe is just right for us, and he covers all the main arguments thoroughly and shows up their shortcomings.  Eventually, he chooses a different path that does away with luck as well as the Multiverse.  But as Deep Thought, the computer in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, says, you are not going to like it.
    That distasteful speculation takes two forms.  In one, Davies suggests the universe has some sort of life principle built into the laws of physics.  The second is that humans created the universe—by observing it.  This extrapolation of quantum mechanical weirdness, first discussed by physicist John Wheeler, is sometimes called the Participatory Anthropic Principle.2  What is the lesson of this book?
    Just when the reader feels that Davies is losing his grip and sliding inexorably towards fantasy, he takes a well-timed reality check, reminding the reader, and himself, that in order to address the question of ‘How come existence?’, one must either play it safe and back away from the question, or be quite radical.  Many physicists will not like this book.... but Davies is courageous, entertaining and persuasive in laying them out clearly.  Many scientists might feel that the subject matter, as Davies acknowledges, should be ‘left to the philosophers and priests’, with scientists tackling only those questions they can hope to answer.  But it’s still a thoroughly good read.
  2. Mimic the Masters:  Robert Cahn (U of Cambridge) reviewed a new book on the imitation of natural designs:3 Biomimetics: Biologically Inspired Technologies (CRC Press, 2006), edited by Yoseph Bar-Cohen of JPL.  He quotes the editor defining the subject matter:
    The field of biomimetics encompasses a broad range of topics, generally based on the concept of ’learning from Nature’ in areas of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE).  This ’learning’ may be through inspiration in design, function or a combination of both.
    The book concentrates on robotics more than materials science, but has a chapter on spider silk (05/25/2005) and another on evolutionary computing (cf. 11/14/2006, also from JPL).

1Jim Al-Khalili, “Life in the universal porridge,” Nature 444, 423-424 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444423a.  The book is to be published in the US in April as Cosmic Jackpot (Houghton Mifflin).
2One critic called it the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle.  The acronym is left as an exercise.
3Robert W. Cahn, “Learning from nature,” Nature 444, 425-426 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444425b.
Despite how much the Darwinists rant and rave about how creationism will undermine science, the real cutting-edge scientific work, both theoretical and practical, is empowered by design principles.  The intelligent design leaders are arguing these principles not because of a political or religious agenda, but because they fit the world we observe.
    If cosmologists have to go to such extreme lengths as to suggest that we create the universe by observing it, then the secret is out: they choose to believe in materialism in spite of evidence and logic.  No pagan myth could be considered more outrageous.  And suggesting that the laws of physics have some sort of built-in life principle that can yield brains from hydrogen is as silly as Moliere’s chemist who, when asked why opium made people sleepy, responded that it had a “dormitive virtue.”  OK, now let’s hear something really profound.  How about In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth?  With their minds the evolutionists disbelieve it, but with their hands they assume it.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignCosmologyBiomimetics
Nature Interviews German Creationist; Media Notes Rise of Anti-Darwinism    11/27/2006  
Following a news report entitled, “Anti-evolutionists raise their profile in Europe,”1 Nature printed a short interview with one of them:2
Peter Korevaar is head of the physics and cosmology working group of Germany’s Studiengemeinschaft Wort und Wissen, one of the largest creationist groups in Europe.  He holds a PhD in astrophysics and now works at IBM in Mannheim.  Quirin Schiermeier asks him about his group’s aims.
The interview was straightforward, unfestooned with interviewer emotion or reaction.  Korevaar was asked about his group’s aims, and his answer was just as straightforward:
We are a Protestant group.  We want to do accurate and honest scientific work under the premise that God has created the world.  Scientific naturalism as we know it doesn’t allow for a creator who can interfere with the physical world.  Evolution should be taught in schools, and creation discussed along with it.
He was also asked about his relationship with scientists, about evolution, about intelligent design, and about his group in comparison with those in the USA.  Korevaar expressed his desire to discuss these issues rationally with his colleagues.  Being labeled as “dilettantes” or “fundamentalists” he finds as prejudicial and indicative of misunderstanding.  He said microevolution is non-controversial, but there is no evidence for macroevolution.  As for relationships with US creation groups, he said, “We are aware of other creationist groups in Europe and the United States.  But we don’t collaborate too much with any of them.”  He said his group can subscribe to most of the alternative answers provided by intelligent design.  There was no indication whether this was the entire interview.
    The other news article, however,1 described the rise of creationism in Europe in more ominous undertones, depicting it as a battle against science.  For example,
  • Almut Graebsch and Quirin Schiermeier assess whether creationism is threatening science in Europe.
  • But a number of similar incidents over the past couple of years, in various countries, are raising fears among the scientific community that creationism may be on the rise in Europe.
  • ...the most blatant attempt to ban evolution...
  • Following widespread protest....
  • “Italy is no longer a completely secular country,” says Telmo Pievani, a philosopher of science at the University of Milan II in Italy.  “We are facing a dramatic and worrying cultural and political regression.”
  • There is debate over the size of the threat posed to science in Europe by the various creationist movements.
  • Moreover, Europeans do seem to be more enlightened than Americans when it comes to evolution.
  • Others warn that scientists can’t afford to be complacent.  “The anti-evolution movement does undermine public understanding of science,”...
In addition, anti-creationist Steve Jones, who testified to seeing a large increase in creationist questions at his lectures in recent years, was given the last word.  “Jones says that, despite his dislike of creationism – ‘it annoys and depresses me that intelligent students persist in holding irrational views’ – he doesn’t think that such arguments are set to undermine science in countries such as Britain.  ‘But I am not so optimistic about Turkey.’”
    Turkey was described as having the most aggressive and widespread creationist movement.  Other countries mentioned with active challenges to evolution included Germany, Poland, Russia, Italy and Britain.
    The British case is notable for a clash of two specific organizations.  A group called Truth in Science distributed information packs to every secondary school in September; these included DVDs of the popular intelligent-design film Unlocking the Mystery of Life.  “In response,” the article continued, “a group called the British Centre for Science Education has been formed to campaign against the teaching of creationism in schools” (see 10/27/2006, bullet #5).  While the article mentioned ties between Turkish creation groups and America’s Institute for Creation Research, it did not mention the BCSE’s ties to the National Center for Science Education in the US.
    The BCSE’s response may be too little, too late, however.  Positive responses from the DVDs have indicated that intelligent design is getting a hearing.  Wrote one viewer, “It was the first time I really saw ID presented as a positive research programme that is about more than simply picking holes in Darwinism.... I can see a lot of young people interested in studying biochemistry or molecular biology, as well as some computer scientists, taking up the challenging questions posed on the video.”  Another wrote, “The DVD is far better than I had imagined!... This sort of high quality material is just what is needed to present to thinking people.  I really think that anyone who actually watches the DVD, will realize the charges of ‘religious bigotry’ are completely unfounded and must want to know more,” he said, ending on a note that he was ready to “certainly recommend it to as many of my friends as possible.”
    Since intelligent design is becoming more part of the public dialogue, The Guardian printed a Q&A about it, mostly derogatory.  Another story on The Guardian reported how Richard Dawkins is taking steps to fight it in the schools.  The BBC TV posted an article about the “war on science” (i.e., intelligent design), taking comfort from the Dover ruling but discomfort from the numbers of Darwin skeptics in the public.  This followed a BBC Newsnight TV episode that pitted Truth in Science leader Andy McIntosh against critic Lewis Wolpert.  While McIntosh tried to stay on point that the question is not about the identity of the Designer but allowing alternatives to materialism to be investigated, Wolpert reiterated, almost shouting with intensity and gesturing emphatically, that ID is about religion and has zero to say about science.  A BBC News story did not even mention McIntosh but gave prominent coverage to Wolpert’s position and activities to fight creationism.
    The Guardian also posted a story 11/27 about the “rise of creationism” in the UK and the work of Truth in Science.  The article mentioned that, of the 89 feedback cards received from secondary schools sent the information packet of two DVDs and a manual, 59 were positive, 15 negative, and 15 said the material was “unsuitable.”  A BBC News article, however, reported that a leading chemistry teacher, Nick Cowan, urged the Education Secretary to adopt the Truth in Science materials, because they are “very scholarly” and are useful in teaching how science is done.  “All the Truth in Science stuff does is put forward stuff that says here’s a controversy,” he remarked.  “This is exactly the kind of thing that young people should be exposed to.”
1Almut Graebsch and Quirin Schiermeier, “News: Anti-evolutionists raise their profile in Europe,” Nature 444, 406-407 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444406a.
2“News: Q&A Peter Korevaar,” Nature 444, 407 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444407a.
The Darwinists must be scared witless at these developments.  (That assumes they had a wit to begin with.)  They must feel like East German secret police at the first sign of cracks in the Berlin Wall.  While the news piece about “anti-evolutionists on the rise” contains classic Nature propaganda from the Darwin Party spin office, it was highly unusual for them to print an interview with the enemy without demanding he wear the clown costume.  They certainly couldn’t claim Korevaar didn’t have the credentials, with his PhD in astrophysics and a job at IBM.
    Darwiniac Steve Jones in particular must be extremely frustrated.  He used to be able to assuage any public anti-evolution rumblings by serving up a brief stew of propaganda chunks and fallacy gravy, then wipe it off with a napkin and carry on (e.g., 04/21/2006, bullet #2).  It isn’t that easy any more.  The public is spitting it out and patronizing ID vendors who aren’t so patronizing in their attitude.  It shouldn’t be so hard for him and his fellow Darwin-only devotees to attract their customers back.  All they need to do is build a better mousetrap by evolution, or show in scholarly detail how exquisite biological machines invented themselves.  In the new film The Case for a Creator, Jonathan Wells proposed a Darwinian test: put a cell in a test tube of nutrient broth and poke it, letting its insides fall out.  Now, all the ingredients for life are present.  If the Darwinists can put Humpty Dumpty back together again without intelligent design, people would be more likely to believe their story.
    The Darwin Party strategists can either intensify their pointless warfare against the popular uprising (02/24/2006), or engage in peace talks.  If they choose the latter route, the ID Visigoths (05/09/2006) should not trust the smooth words of the Darwin emissaries.  They’re liars, remember?  Lying is part of their world view.  It’s a legitimate part of how the world works, the way they see things.  Lying evolved (04/26/2004); it must be a good thing for showing how fit you are (03/14/2006).  Since morality is also a phantom artifact of the selfish genes, a Darwinist only employs honesty, as if it actually meant something, for selfish ends.  This is done by the method of mimicry.  Darwinists borrow concepts from the Christians long enough to suit their purposes in the evolutionary arms race (e.g., 10/13/2006).  Then they either escape or move in for the kill.
    Most likely, the Darwin Party strategizers will make concessions only long enough to find a faux pax to make a cause celebre in some school or town, enough to capitalize on it and say, “Well, we tried the alternative, and it failed so miserably, we have to go back to the dictatorship.”  If you wouldn’t like to see the Berlin Wall resurrected, then remember: forewarned is forearmed.  Certain Darwinists are incorrigible.  Like Marxists in Parliament, they can be tolerated only when forced to share power, but must always be monitored lest they plot to seize it for themselves.  Don’t expect them to remain civil with just part of the pie (see 11/05/2006).  They’ll play along till they get the power back, then the first item of business will be to dissolve Parliament and bring back King Charles.  (And then, purge the democratic leadership.)
    One useful technique for preventing the East German communists from retaking control was to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall as a great popular victory through pictures and artifacts.  Pieces of the wall are popular collector’s items and museum pieces.  Photos of the cheering crowds wielding their sledge hammers against the symbol of oppression will linger long in the memory, saying more than books could express.  When the Darwin idol finally falls and the Bamboozle Curtain is torn down by liberated minds (06/29/2006, 04/20/2006), and it becomes politically safe for gentle people to admit they had anti-Darwinist leanings, we will need visual reminders of just how vicious (03/14/2006, 03/02/2006) and intolerant (04/21/2006, 02/20/2006) the Darwin Party thought police had behaved, or how ludicrous the claims of the Darwinist facilitators had become (e.g., 05/09/2006, 05/02/2006, 03/31/2006).  Some day soon, a cartoon book of Stupid Evolution Quotes of the Week (e.g., 11/08/2006, 07/23/2006), paired with The Far Side, could make a nice stocking stuffer for post-Darwinist high school students.  Darwin Party strategists trying to polish the idol (02/10/2006) are not likely to succeed with people snickering and suggesting it be re-erected in the carnival dunking booth.
    Artists, you could have a hand in this.  Let the news inspire your next masterpiece; perhaps something like a sculpture of Darwin and Stalin embracing in a quicksand of facts, or Dawkins and Dennett engaged in a futile battle against an army of biological machines.  A scene of scientists bowing before a big Darwin buddha (07/18/2006), with the title “Fundamentalists,” might work.  More seriously, the most effective memorial might be to superimpose some of the worst Darwin rhetoric (e.g., 07/06/2006), 05/09/2006) engraved in cold steel, over scenes of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Next headline on:  EducationPolitics and EthicsDarwinismIntelligent Design
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Plants Have an Immune System, Too    11/26/2006  
We know that animals fight disease with an army of patrols swimming in blood, but how do plants cope?  They are exposed to pathogens, too: everything from bacteria to fungi, worms and insects.  Without a central nervous system or circulatory system to help, are our gentle green friends at the mercy of what comes?  The answer is no.  In Nature Nov 16, two biologists described “the plant immune system.”1
    “Plants, unlike mammals, lack mobile defender cells and a somatic adaptive immune system,” wrote Jones and Dangl, authors of the paper.  “Instead, they rely on the innate immunity of each cell and on systemic signals emanating from infection sites.”  These signals help special proteins distinguish self from non-self.  The authors describe a two-branch and four-stage system involving numerous protein parts.  Much remains to be understood, but what they wrote about is withering in its complexity.  It must work pretty well, when all is said and done.  In short, “Most plants resist infection by most pathogens,” they noted.


1Jonathan D. G. Jones and Jeffery L. Dangl, “Review: The plant immune system,” Nature 444, 323-329 (16 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05286.
The authors use evolutionary language, but it is really superfluous.  They talk about how angiosperms arose at the same time pathogens evolved to take advantage of them, and how the evolutionary arms race continues to this day.  While this may satisfy the need of certain atheists to feel like they are on the path to understanding how things might make themselves, their explanations are too general for empirical verification and border on the teleological.
    A fresh approach might be to view the plants and their pathogens as parts of an interacting system of checks and balances.  Plants need to thrive to fulfill their roles in the ecosystem, but might overtake everything if unchecked.  Pathogens are like governors on the engine or brakes at the speed limit.  For their work, they get paid with plant food.
    When things become unbalanced and whole populations collapse, that’s when we tend to see the pathogens as evil.  Why things get unbalanced is an interesting question.  Exchanging metaphors to see the scene as a Darwinian struggle for selfishness and survival, however, does nothing to help the empirical investigation of the system.  It is philosophy, not science.  What qualifies as science is applying principles derived from the observed cause and effect structure of the world.  When we see interacting systems involving complex machines and informational systems, we infer that intelligence was involved in their origin.  That’s about all science can say.  Further understanding requires input from other sources.
Next headline on:  PlantsAmazing Facts
How the eye lens remains clear, from 08/28/2003.

Anti-Religious Sentiment Increases in Intensity   11/25/2006    
The two poles could hardly be farther apart.  In the East, a hundred million radical Muslims swear death to all Americans and Jews and work themselves into frenzies of jihad for the worldwide triumph of Islam.  In the West, radical atheists are determined to eradicate religion from the Earth.  Somewhere in between, millions of Christians practice their faith in peace, serve their fellow man, study science and other academic subjects at the university, and wonder why they are labeled with the same word fundamentalist the atheists use to describe Islamic radicals.
    The rhetoric against religion from certain scientific quarters has reached almost evangelistic zeal.  In an article for the New York Times, George Johnson surveyed a cross-section of leading atheists who agree that religion is bad, but differ only on how best to eradicate it.  Opinions expressed at a Salk Institute Forum this month varied from appeals for rational dialogue (Joan Roughgarden and Lawrence Krauss) to stringent opposition and condemnation (Richard Dawkins).  None were pleased at the Templeton Foundation’s muddying of the waters by rewarding leaders who try to bridge science and religion.  Carolyn Porco even suggested atheists start an alternative religion based on science, with Neil deGrasse Tyson as minister.  In a similar vein, Wired Magazine had a cover story on “the new atheism” this month, and US News and World Report discussed “the new unbelievers.”  What’s new about it?

Well, extremism, for one thing.  Not only do the new atheists find religion intellectually irredeemable, morally dubious, and socially unnecessary, they judge it a clear and present danger, maybe even the greatest threat to the survival of the species.  If Voltaire wanted to “wipe out the infamy” of religion, he really meant that he—like Thomas Jefferson and a number of America’s founders—wanted a more reasonable deism, a philosophical religion that acknowledged an original designer but got rid of all the supernatural stuff, including revealed truths and moral dictates that ran counter to reason.  But religion made reasonable or understood symbolically will not do for Dawkins or Harris (though the latter sees some Eastern spiritual disciplines as acceptable, and possibly even helpful to the moral life).  Both are intent to show, as Dawkins puts it, “that moderate religion makes the world safe for fundamentalism.”
What inflames the evangelistic zeal from atheist quarters?  Logan Gage, writing for Discovery Institute, thinks it stems from uneasiness over what science is finding both in physics and biology.  The cosmos is showing more evidence of fine tuning, and the smallest units of life are showing unimagined complexity.  A thorn in their side is that the prominent British former atheist Antony Flew has now admitted that “the findings of more than 50 years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”
Update 11/27/2006:  In an op-ed piece for the New York Times Nov. 27, Richard Schweder commented on the “Atheists Agonistes” who are “so conspicuously up in arms these days.”  He attributes the reaction not so much to being provoked by religious zealots, but to anxiety over the collapse of the “illusory” concept of the Enlightenment which, “a theory of history, ... has had a predictive utility of approximately zero.”  The 20th century was the worst one yet, he said, and the dance on the fallen Berlin wall was not the “the apotheosis of the Enlightenment.”
Richard Dawkins’ hatred for religion is so extreme, even some of his fellow atheists feel he goes too far.  Where did this passion come from?  Did he have a bad experience in his youth?  If he really believes all things are evolutionary products, then the vast majority of people who believe in a supreme being and true spiritual life must be in the evolutionary mainstream.  Why, then, is he opposing it?  Is it because he assumes his rationality stems from an external Truth independent of his own brain cells?  How could that be, if they have evolved by natural selection under the control of selfish genes and memes?  If the memes are directing mankind’s evolution toward religion, then it is irrational to resist it.
    Dawkins and his atheist church may soon wish for the friendship of Christians and Jews.  Anyone who has been watching the rapid growth of radical Islamic fascism must be extremely worried.  The producers of the documentary Obsession, who recorded Muslim imams chanting hate to throngs of passionate disciples, and showed Muslim students being taught hate and being trained for jihad from earliest childhood, said their jolting film represents the tip of the iceberg.  Such teaching is daily fare in Muslim countries.  Islamic-controlled states are educating children to venerate hate and death, to believe Jews came from pigs and monkeys, and to believe the greatest thing in life is to commit suicide while killing as many Jews, Christians and non-Muslims as possible.  What’s most alarming is that they are gaining the power, technology and numbers to actually carry out their dream of world conquest.
    Atheists are in the cross-hairs, too.  What must Dawkins feel when he sees huge crowds of passionate Muslims chanting death to the Western world?  What passes through his mind when Muslim dictators are on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons, and have the full intent to use them?  What does he think at the alarming birth rate disparity between Muslim immigrants and Europeans?  He must realize there is no use talking science or reason with these people.  There aren’t enough atheists to stand against this growing threat, even if they would listen.   Is this a time to hold book-signing parties for The God Delusion in America and Britain, when jihadists are openly threatening his homeland on the streets of London?
    Dawkins and his fellow atheists had better wake up.  It’s the Judeo-Christian West that has granted them the freedom of speech and tolerance for their views.  Dawkins has thanked his patrons by wandering all over the West with his hate-religion message.  This is cowardly.  If he really believed it, and if had the courage of his convictions, he would use his reason to target the biggest problem first.  He would take his message in person to Gaza, Tehran, Beirut and Damascus.  He would use his influence to stop the lies and hate being perpetrated to children and the ignorant poor.  Christians and Jews are too easy a target.  Let’s see how his message of reason and science holds up in the face of Islam.
    For their own survival, for the survival of the science and reason they love, the atheists need to drop the moral-equivalency rhetoric and understand who their allies are.  Because of their numbers and values, Christians and Jews are their best allies in the looming war to save Western civilization.  It’s not helping for the atheists to lump Christians and Jews in the same category with the jihadists.  Any day, any time now, there could well be a huge attack that will make 9-11 look like a picnic.  Scientists, academics and secular humanists lack the will and the numbers to stop this threat.  It is looking increasingly hopeless that any Western political leader will be able to overcome the inertia of political correctness that stifles effective resistance against the extreme fanaticism of Islam, the most backward, reactionary and irrational religion of all.  Some pundits are already writing off Europe and expecting it to fall under Muslim control – a comeback from the Battle of Tours (732 A.D.).
    Fast-forward a few years.  Picture Dawkins and other scientific elitists under Sharia law.  Imagine them forced to convert to Islam or die.  Will they have the moral fiber to resist when a sword is at their necks?  It’s been too easy till now to rant against the easy religious targets: Christians and Jews.  Let them watch Oxford and its libraries burn as a nuclear bomb from Iran hits London, destroying priceless history as hordes of Muslims cheer and scream for more.  Foxhole conversion or no, the companionship of a compassionate Christian who can give reasons why this is happening and why he believes the Prince of Peace will ultimately prevail, may be too precious a thing to criticize any longer.  Come now, and let us reason together.
Next headline on:  Evolutionary World ViewPolitics and EthicsTheology
Germans apologize for Nazi Social-Darwinist experiments, from 06/12/2001.

New Technology Visualizes Animals in the Womb   11/24/2006    
Many have seen the videos of human babies developing in the womb, but what do animals look like before birth?  Rhiannon Edward began an article in The Scotsman with some glimpses:

An unborn elephant, tiny but perfect in every way.  A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born.  An unborn dog panting.  Each one amazing and now, thanks to these remarkable pictures, they can be seen for the first time.
3D Ultrasound technology is now allowing scientists to watch these developments.  A two-hour program will show some of the findings next year.  The BBC News has a gallery of stunning photographs.
Life does not begin at birth.  These images reveal complex behaviors and structures that show the animals engaging in activities that will be vital to their survival when the womb doors open.  For an animal to stand, see, breath, walk or swim upon entering the outside world for the first time, they must have all the hardware and software ready and operating in the womb.
    These new images and facts are welcome.  Try to imagine the reaction if the movie is shown of the cute baby elephant or dog maturing in the womb with happy background music.  Suddenly a scissors appears and is inserted into the skull!  The music turns frantic as we watch the animal’s brains being sucked out.  It quivers and dodges and jerks and dies an agonizing death, never to see the light of day.  What horror film would imagine such a thing?  Yet this is routinely done to human babies, and our Supreme Court is taking months to decide whether it should be allowed to continue or not.  How can human beings even argue about such things?
Next headline on:  MammalsAmazing Facts
Genetic Study Points to Three Ancestral Families of Humans   11/24/2006    
In a paper just published in Nature,1 scientists mapped the DNA of 270 people from four people groups: European, African, Chinese, and Japanese.  The scientists were looking for sections of DNA that are either missing or duplicated.  Many sections of our DNA appear over and over again.  The number of extra copies varies between individuals and between people groups.  The number of copies is called the Copy Number Variation (CNV).
    The major excitement in their study was the finding of a link between locations within chromosomes of DNA that are missing or duplicated and the locations on the chromosomes of many diseases.  DNA code that scientists used to call useless junk, left over from the random process of evolution, are now turning out to contain mechanisms that determine many physical characteristics and control much of our body chemistry.  A whole new field of research is opening up:
Our map of copy number variation in the human genome demonstrates the ubiquity and complexity of this form of genomic variation.  The abundance of functional sequences of all types both within and flanking areas of copy number variation suggests that the contribution of CNVs to phenotypic variation is likely to be appreciable.  This prediction is underscored by the impact of copy number variation on variation in gene expression.
Buried in the report was the observation that although their samples came from four geographical areas, the samples divided themselves neatly into three distinct groups.  The Chinese and Japanese fell into the same group, with the Europeans and Africans being the other two:
“In contrast to other classes of human genetic variation, the population genetics of copy number variation remains unexplored.  The distribution of copy number variation within and among different populations is shaped by mutation, selection and demographic history....To demonstrate the utility of copy number variation genotypes for population genetic inference we performed population clustering on 67 genotyped biallelic CNVs.  We obtained the optimal clustering with the assumption of three ancestral populations, with the African, European and Asian populations clearly differentiated.
Click here for a striking graph of how sharply the three groups are separated.  The legend on the graph denotes people groups: Nigeria (YRI), Europe (CEU), Japan (JPT) and China (CHB).
1Redon et al, “Global variation in copy number in the human genome,” Nature 444, 444-454 (23 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05329.
See also: BBC News, National Geographic and News@Nature.
Although this study considered only a limited sample, this is either a remarkable coincidence or confirmation of the biblical account in Genesis 9 to 11 describing all the peoples of the earth coming from the three sons of Noah.  Further studies should confirm with larger numbers of samples from more locations that all the world’s population can be separated into three groups.
    How will this affect the popular “Out of Africa” theory of man’s origin?  Further research could create quite a lot of stress among anthropologists whose careers are based on the “Out of Africa” story.  What new tale will evolutionists come up with to account for three ancestral populations?
    Not surprisingly, the major news media, such as the BBC, had practically nothing to say about there being only three ancestral populations, focusing rather on the medical aspects of the paper.  A review of the paper by Physorg, however, jumps to the defense:
Evolution is another area that will come under new scrutiny.  The “Out of Africa” scenario, by which Homo sapiens emerged from east Africa and spread around the globe, will not be challenged, though.  Our origins are so recent that the vast majority of CNVs, around 89 percent, was found to be shared among the 269 people who volunteered blood as samples for the study.  These individuals included Japanese from Tokyo, Han Chinese from Beijing, Yoruba from Nigeria and Americans of Northern and Western European ancestry.  All the same, there are widespread differences in CNVs according to the three geographical origins of the samples.  This implies that, over the last 200,000 years or so, subtle variants have arisen in the genome to allow different populations of humans adapt to their different environments, Wellcome Trust Sanger said in a press release.
So it sounds like “Out of Africa” is safe.  All we are asked to believe is that in the course of 200,000 imaginary years, or perhaps 10,000 generations, there has been so little mixing of the gene pool that we still see three very distinct groups.  This could be a problem.  We are still left with the requirement that at some point in the past, say about 200,000 imaginary years ago (or perhaps only 3400 years ago) there was a time when the human population, for some unexplained reason, shrank to the point that it was able to form three distinct genetic groups.  Sorry, but this is still sounding a lot like the three sons of Noah.
—DK
Next headline on:  GeneticsEarly Man
No thanks for this cosmology, from 11/26/2003.

Dinosaur Skin Found, Possible Soft Tissue   11/23/2006    
A mostly-complete duck-billed Edmontosaurus dinosaur has been found in Montana, reported the Discovery Channel.  A patch of skin from the hip was recovered.  The team from North Carolina State University and Museum of Natural Sciences was very careful.  They wanted to preserve any possible soft tissue, using techniques developed by Mary Schweitzer that last year revealed possible blood cells in a T. rex (11/11/2006).  The traditional bone focus appears to be shifting:

“We’ve only been looking at one thing in the past, the dinosaur skeletal system, but we could learn so much more if we could study their circulatory system and other body systems,” Vince Schneider, curator of paleontology at the museum, told Discovery News.
Schweitzer’s lab will be examining the specimen in more detail.  The skin fragment was preserved in three dimensions.  The fossil was buried in “fine sandstone stream sediments,” the report claims.
    Jim Gilchrist in The Scotsman commented on the rapid growth of dinosaur discoveries, saying we are entering a golden age of dinosaur hunting.  He referred to the soft-tissue phenomenon, quoting Dr. Peter Dodson (U of Pennsylvania) calling it “staggering.”
Now that paleontologists are realizing more than bone can be preserved, the search is on for soft tissue.  This is a burgeoning field to watch.  Is it possible evolutionary bias toward millions of years hindered paleontologists from even considering the possibility of soft tissue?
    A team member speculated that the area was “probably a large river delta that opened into an inland sea,” and that the creature “probably drowned crossing at high flow.”  No marks of predators were found.  Moreover, “Evidence also suggests a lush forest with hardwood vegetation and leafy plants once stood there,” the article states.  Hadrosaurs and ceratopsians are large animals that were apparently well fed and content at this location when they perished.  Exercise: if you are not convinced these behemoths were afraid of high water in a stream, think of another scenario for what might have happened.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossils
Evolutionism Fomented Columbine Disaster, Father Says   11/22/2006    
Brian Rohrbough, father of one of the students killed in the Columbine school shooting in 1999, spoke on CBS News “free speech” segment October 2 after the recent Amish school shooting.  Tonight (Nov. 22) on Fox News, the Bill O’Reilly show replayed an interview he had with Rohrbough about that CBS speech that led to a firestorm of reaction in the media and on the web (example).  It was taped last month on his Talking Points October 6.  O’Reilly titled it, “CBS News allows conservative point of view and all hell breaks loose.”  He especially had taken issue with a poor choice of words Katie Couric had used on her blog, “We knew when we decided to put on this segment that a lot of people would disagree with it.  We also knew some might even find it repugnant.”  Bill countered that he found nothing at all hateful in the father’s short, impassioned yet sincere statement.
    What was so repugnant?  One thing was that Rohrbough had tied the massacre to the teaching of evolution.  In Media Matters Oct. 17, Erik Boehlert called these “fringe comments.”  With little sympathy for the bereaved father or his right of free speech, he said, “Rohrbough proceeded to uncork a radical-right sermon about how godless liberals were running the country by, among other misdeeds, teaching evolution in the classroom.”  O’Reilly asked Rohrbough specifically about that reference to evolution, in which he had stated,
This country is in a moral free-fall.  For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value.
The popular TV host appeared doubtful that evolution could have been a motive for the crime.  Rohrbough, however, backed up the claim without a flinch.  He told O’Reilly that evolution is implicated because it “gives the right to exterminate the weak.”  Even more startling, he claimed that tapes made by the boys before they went on the shooting rampage clearly state that they were plotting their act because of evolution.  That was evidenced further by the fact that Klebold wore a T-shirt on the fateful day proclaiming “Natural Selection.”
    Rohrbough was frustrated that this evidence has not been released.  “Evolution was the basis for the attack on Columbine,” he told O’Reilly; “They said it themselves.  Unfortunately, the sheriff’s department won’t release the tape.”
Why won’t they release the tape?  Possibly because it is vulgar and filled with foul language; maybe because they fear emotional trauma to the families.  Or, perhaps it is considered too “politically incorrect” to link such an evil deed to evolution, lest the image of Saint Darwin be dishonored.  Here’s a cause for concerned citizens to get involved and demand that the truth come out.  Darwinists may claim till the mutant cows come home that evolution is merely a scientific theory with no moral strings attached, but students know how to connect the dots to nihilism.  Need proof?  Revisit our 08/31/2006 entry.
Next headline on:  DarwinismPolitics and EthicsEducationMedia
Take Your Flu Pill: Vitamin D   11/21/2006    
Vitamin D may be a multi-purpose germ fighter.  An article by Janet Roloff in Science News1 gathered evidence from several research labs that strongly suggests this molecule triggers the formation of one of the body’s effective antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal agents: cathelicidin.  In its activated form, vitamin D binds to a short section of DNA called a “response element” that strongly increases activity of the cathelicidin gene.
    Since vitamin D is produced in the skin with moderate exposure to UV rays in sunlight, a healthy body outdoors appears to have a built-in response system.  Mona Stahle (Karolinska Institute, Sweden) was studying vitamin D response in the skin when she heard about cathelicidin production by vitamin D.  She remarked, “It just came to me—an intuitive thought—that maybe the sun, through vitamin D production, might help regulate the skin’s antimicrobial response.”
    By describing a convergence of independent research avenues, Loloff showed the linkage between this vitamin and the immune system via genetics.  Healthy vitamin-triggered cathelicidin pathways appear to be beneficial for the prevention of rickets, tuberculosis, and even the common flu.  Her story ends confirming an anecdotal observation in the first paragraph: prisoners treated for vitamin D deficiency in one facility developed almost no flu symptoms, while those in others had infection rates as high as 10%.
1Janet Roloff, “The Antibiotic Vitamin,” Science News, Week of Nov. 11, 2006; Vol. 170, No. 20, p. 312.
Loloff’s article reads like a detective story.  Several teams working independently put together pieces that appear to relate vitamin D to cathelicidin production, and that to disease prevention.  Cause-effect relationships in health are tricky to establish, but this one seems to make sense.  Of course, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.  Vitamin D overdose can be toxic – to say nothing of sunburn.
    This article is another example of healthy science with no need for evolutionary theory.  The E word was absent in the article and would have been superfluous.  The observations support design: an integrated system of inputs and outputs, checks and balances, and parts that fit together.  It looks like another example of irreducible complexity.  Notice especially how the chemical response of vitamin D is finely tuned to the energy of UV rays, emitted by the sun, that are able to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere, which screens most UV radiation.  Not only that, but the molecules are positioned in skin to the depth where the radiation reaches.  In short, the whole system is tuned, from the molecular reaction, to the gene network, to the tissue structure of skin, to the whole body, to the environment on Earth’s surface, to the planetary atmosphere, to the type of star.
    Science should seek to understand how things work for the end goal of improving health, safety and societal welfare.  The findings from these studies could directly benefit third-world countries with multitudes of poor people afflicted with unnecessary diseases.  A little applied knowledge discovered through scientific (e.g., systematic) investigation of nature’s designs could pay a big dividend in health and comfort for millions of people.  Shouldn’t that be the goal of science?
    For your Thanksgiving meal, consider adding some good sources of vitamin D.  You don’t have to substitute cod liver oil for turkey, but a balanced diet should take this essential nutrient into account.  And instead of watching the football game inside this year, how about getting into a good game yourself in the healthful outdoor sunshine?
Next headline on:  HealthGeneticsAmazing Facts
“Engineering without an engineer,” 01/28/2004, and “Does microevolution add up?” 01/15/2004.

Robot Tadpole Sex Sheds Light on Intelligent Design    11/20/2006  
Scientists studying the evolution of vertebrate physiology at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.  have designed swimming robots to demonstrate how evolution might have produced such efficient vertebrate swimmers (see Live Science).  Swimming abilities of each robot were tested by measuring its ability to swim toward and follow a light suspended above the surface of a pool.  After each round of testing, the characteristics of the robots that swam the best were combined into a new design, simulating natural selection of beneficial vertebral characteristics.
    “The fossil record shows vertebrae evolved independently at least four separate times.  That shows they must really be functionally important,” said vertebrate physiologist John Long.
    The swimming robots are called Tadros, because they are robots simulating tadpoles.  Further tests will explore the effects of predators on the development of Tadro backbones:

In addition, the researchers plan on adding a “predator” into the tank during the swimming competition to see how Tadro tails evolve under those circumstances.  The hunter will attempt to collide with the robots, while the Tadros will try to avoid it.  This next generation of Tadros will detect the predator using infrared sensors that mimic the pressure-sensitive organs of fish known as lateral lines.  “We also plan not just on making the backbone stiffer, but on putting in vertebrae, to make them bend, to have joints, and see how that changes things,” Long said.
Long’s paper will appear Nov. 17 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Another example of the equivalent of dog breeding (microevolution) being passed off as macroevolution.  If you want to increase the ability of a dog to hunt, how would you do it?  How about get a bunch of dogs out in the woods and see which ones hunt the best.  Then breed those dogs together to produce offspring that hunt better than the last generation.  Have you introduced new genetic information?  No, you have just selected from what was already there.  Have you explained where the dog’s hunting ability came from in the first place?  No; as far as this experiment is concerned, Tadros and their simulated backbones appear magically out of nowhere, fully formed.
    Predators in this experiment are intended to put selection pressure on Tadros in the same way cats put selection pressure on mice.  Tadros respond by evolving pressure-sensitive organs.  No, wait!  Pressure sensitive organs just appear magically, having been intelligently designed by the researchers.  Nonetheless, now that we have these organs, we will spend lots of money playing in our pond, making other things magically appear, such as more vertebrae, intelligently selecting which features we want to select for, and which features must go.  So much for the mindless, random forces of evolution.
—DK
Next headline on:  Darwinian EvolutionDumb Ideas.
Related story:  11/14/2006.
Flight Design Inspires Research    11/20/2006  
There are flying machines hovering over our planet that can turn on a dime, making rapid 90-degree turns.  Their instruments process images ten times faster than we can, and possess precision gyros that tell them how fast they are rotating in space – yet their computers are smaller than the head of a pin.  They’re not UFOs; these are quite well identified, if not completely understood.  They are called fruit flies.
    Michael Dickinson at Caltech is using a $4.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to figure out how they do it, reported National Geographic News.  He discussed his work recently on their program Pulse of the Planet.  Why go to the trouble?  “The more things you take apart, the more intuition you gain about the natural world,” the professor of bioengineering said.  It’s not just about learning how flies work.  Who cares, after all, about a teensy fruit fly?  “In figuring out how something as complex as a fly is put together, you gain insight into many complicated processes,”  Dickinson explained.
    Why is natural engineering a good target for research funds?  “I think it is a valid goal,” he said, “to try to figure out how other interesting organisms on the planet work and not focus exclusively on humans.”  A Cornell specialist in flapping flight agrees.  Jane Wang finds the fruit fly difficult but tractable: “Some things are so daunting we don’t know where to start,” she said.  “Here it’s daunting, but we have some idea of how to figure this out.”  And that can reap benefits.  According to the article, “Dickinson says he is primarily interested in flies not only because they are good models for human genetics but also because of what they can say about the mechanics of many biological systems.”
    For a more detailed entry on what Dickinson’s Caltech lab has learned about fruit flies, revisit our 12/08/2003 story, “The fruit fly in the flight simulator.”  Dickinson describes more of the hardware and software systems in mind-boggling detail.
Reverse engineering is scientific research based on intelligent-design (ID) principles.  Whether stated or not, the assumption is obvious: a scientist detects a sophisticated system that functions superbly, and wants to figure it out.  He applies his intelligently-designed resources to tackle an engineering problem.  The subject selected for study has a large number of parts that work together as a system for a function: in this case, flight.  Performing this kind of research is no different than reverse-engineering a robot or a watch upon a heath.  The fact that this robot is biological makes no difference.  Just like ID philosophers keep explaining, the question of who designed it does not need to be a factor in the actual lab work.  It is sufficient to be able to sense design and then do science on that basis.  Evolutionary naturalism contributes nothing.
    It’s interesting that the substance of the National Geographic article says nothing about evolution, but weirdly, John Roach inserted this parenthesis right after Dickinson’s “insight into many complicated processes” quote: “
(Read a related National Geographic magazine feature on limb evolution.)”  Related?  How?  Limb evolution – any evolution – has nothing to do with fruit fly flight (say that five times real fast).  This is like telling Nebuchadnezzar to check the “related feature on Chaldean astrology charts” right after Daniel has interpreted the king’s dream.  Daniel did just fine without their help (and in spite of their help), because he knew the one who had designed that particular information-bearing message.
Carrying this comparison further, you recall from the story in Daniel 2 that the charlatans couldn’t fake their answer without additional information.  They knew that if they had to try telling and interpreting the dream by chance, mean ol’ King Neb would discern that they were fakes.  Similarly, Darwinian explanations are non-starters if randomness is the only input.  They can only proceed by sneaking information and design principles in the side door, making it sound like evolution, like some personified entity, orchestrates the stochastic inputs into place.  The evolutionists thus plagiarize design to perform their magic tricks.
So keep your klepto hands off this science project, Darwin Party; it belongs to intelligent design, inc.  Trying to steal credit for any of it is a violation of intellectual property ethics.
    For more on the National Geographic “limb evolution” story, see our 10/22/2006 entry.  Despite its staunchly pro-Darwin title, the article discussed issues that support intelligent design, argued Casey Luskin in a series for Evolution News: #1, #2, #3.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyIntelligent DesignBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
Related entries:  12/08/2003, 01/10/2006.
All in favor say “eye,” from 05/22/2003.

Outsource Our Energy Woes to the Microbes   11/18/2006    
Do we need to dig for oil forever?  Do we need to fret and fume over energy policy as more consumers compete for decreasing resources?  What if there were a virtually inexhaustible supply right under our noses?  That’s what the American Society for Microbiology asked in a press release reproduced by EurekAlert.  “The answer to one of the world’s largest problems – the need for clean, renewable sources of energy – might just come from some of the world’s smallest inhabitants – bacteria,” it teased.  Why reinvent the wheel, when microbes already know how to get fuel from the sun and other readily-available resources?  Some day, the article continues, you may be shopping for some really cool gadgets for the home:

Imagine the future of energy.  The future might look like a new power plant on the edge of town – an inconspicuous bioreactor that takes in yard waste and locally-grown crops like corn and woodchips, and churns out electricity to area homes and businesses,” says Judy Wall of the University of Missouri - Columbia, one of the authors of the report.
    Or the future may take the form of a stylish-looking car that refills its tank at hydrogen stations.  “Maybe the future of energy looks like a device on the roof of your home – a small appliance, connected to the household electric system, that uses sunlight and water to produce the electricity that warms your home, cooks your food, powers your television and washes your clothes.  All these futuristic energy technologies may become reality some day, thanks to the work of the smallest living creatures on earth: microorganisms,” Wall says.
The study of microbial fuels is in its infancy, and current products are not yet cost-effective.  But the potential is enormous.  Microbes already know how to make “numerous fuels including ethanol, hydrogen, methane and butanol.”  They can also convert food sources directly into electricity.
    Farmers and gardeners can look forward to a bright future, too, once scientists learn the secrets of low-energy nitrogen fixation mastered by bacteria.  EurekAlert reported that scientists are making progress understanding how the amazing machines called nitrogenases work.  Dinitrogen molecules are the toughest nuts to crack because of their triple bonds.  Man’s method (the Haber process), used to make ammonia fertilizer, is costly and energy-intensive.  Somehow, nitrogenase splits these tightly-bound atoms apart with ease at room temperature.  If we can figure out how bacteria achieve this feat, and replicate it, the economic boom that might result – with benefits for solving world hunger – can only be imagined.
    By the way, when planning your future biotechnology home, with its termite air conditioning system (09/21/2004), don’t forget the worms (09/14/2004) for clean and efficient garbage disposal.  No worries; it will be a cinch to order whatever you need from your spinach cell phone (09/21/2004).
This is what science ought to be doing.  Millions of people are starving in Africa and Asia and South America under totalitarian governments or superstitious shamans, and all some American and European scientists can think about is how to fight creationism and push Darwin dogma down people’s parched throats.  Sir Francis Bacon envisioned a science that improved people’s lives.  To distinguish good science from bad science, he appealed to Jesus’ proverb, “By their fruits you shall know them.”  Solomon said, “Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, but it is swept away by injustice” (Proverbs 13:23).  It’s time for some justice in modern science.  What has Darwinism brought us other than confusion (11/15/06), dogmatism (11/05/06) and genocide (11/30/2005)?
    If you are a researcher or scientist working on ethically-sound biotechnology or biomimetics, God bless you!  Inspire your students.  There are secrets in the living world that can meet some of the world’s most pressing physical needs if we will just learn about them and apply them.  We are poised with new technologies to make a huge difference.  Look what the Christian creationist George Washington Carver was able to accomplish, and that was over half a century ago, before computers and genomes and nanotechnology.  Where are the Carvers of the information and biotechnology age?  Abundant resources, like acres of diamonds, lie all around us.  Imagine culling bountiful crops of healthy food out of desert sand, or generating non-polluting fuels from sunlight and weeds.  Imagine new ways to fight pathogens with biological tricks, to desalinate oceans and purify scarce water supplies.  Apply your intelligent design to the intelligent design impressed in living things.  Let’s get science back on track and make a difference.  Our microbial servants are there to help.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyPolitics and EthicsAmazing Facts
Some related stories04/22/2003, 04/24/2005
A Cell Technology Show   11/17/2006    
The basic units of life continue to astound scientists with their tricks.  Here are a few recent samples:
  1. Valuable junk:  The complementary or “antisense” strands of certain RNAs that latch onto messenger RNAs are not just junk anymore.  Science Daily reported that these genetic oddities, “previously thought to have no function, may in fact protect sex cells from self-destructing.”  Nobody would want that to happen.  Up till now these strands of genetic material were thought to have no meaning at all.  Now, “considering how widespread these antisense transcripts are, I wouldn’t be surprised if these findings eventually lead us to discover an entirely new level of gene regulation.”  Another said, “This points to an entirely new process of gene regulation that we’ve never seen before in eukaryotic cells.”
  2. Fishers of molecules:  How do DNA transcribers move?  Do they crawl like an inchworm down the strand?  No; the answer is even more surprising.  Researchers at UCLA found that “transcription proceeds initially through a ‘scrunching’ mechanism in which, much like a fisherman reeling in a catch, RNAP [RNA Polymerase] remains in a fixed position while it pulls the flexible DNA strand of the gene within itself and past the enzyme’s reactive center to form the RNA product.”  See EurekAlert for the details.  The original papers in Science actually use the abstruse technical term “scrunching.”  Another press release on EurekAlert has a picture of the “scrunching machine.
  3. Diamonds from the roughEurekAlert reported that another molecular machine is involved in gene expression.  Another RNA polymerase builds micro-RNAs formerly thought to be junk, but now seen to be important in regulating the expression of genes.  Scientists seem to be excited these days about treasure-hunting in the genetic junkyard.  This discovery “broadens understanding of a rapidly developing area of biology known as functional genomics and sheds more light on the mysterious, so-called ‘junk DNA’ that makes up the majority of the human genome.”
  4. Of all the nerve dancers:  Neurons cover themselves in myelin sheaths that are critical to their function.  A press release from Vanderbilt U compared this to the insulation on electrical wiring in your house.  “The formation of myelin sheaths during development requires a complex choreography generally considered to be one of nature’s most spectacular examples of the interactions between different kinds of cells,” reporter David Salisbury wrote.  A group at Vanderbilt succeeded at filming part of the dance.  “We discovered that this process is far more dynamic than anyone had dreamed,” commented one team member.  It’s a good thing the dancers usually get their act together.  Failure can result in “blindness, muscle weakness and paralysis, loss of coordination, stuttering, pain and burning sensations, impotence, memory loss, depression and dementia.”  Ouch.  Read the details and look at frames from the movies they made.
  5. At your serviceScience Daily also had a story about the DNA Repair Team in the cell.  Its motto, announces the title, is “to protect and to serve.”  The article, based on Salk Institute research, began, “When you dial 911 you expect rescuers to pull up at your front door, unload and get busy--not park the truck down the street and eat donuts.”  Same for the cell, it continues: “just before it divides, it recruits protein complexes that repair breakage that may have occurred along the linear DNA chains making up your 46 chromosomes.”  There’s even a protein complex scientists have named 9-1-1.  At the ends of chromosomes, the versatile repair crew knows how to call in additional support to tuck in the ends of the strands and form a protective cap.  “Be thankful your cells are so clever,” the article states: “Erroneous fusion of chromosome ends would be disastrous, leading to cell death or worse.”  No donut breaks for these skilled technicians; they are on the job 24 x 7.
Thanksgiving Day is approaching, by the way.  As you feast, your servants will be hard at work.  Be nice to them.
The discoveries pouring out of the world’s leading cell biology and genetics labs are exciting, and have “design” written all over them.  Rare is the article on the details of cell biology that mentions evolution at all.  If it does, evolutionary theory is usually tagged on as an afterthought, contributing nothing of substance.  Reporters are increasingly bypassing the Charlie display and lining up at the high-tech booth.
    It is hard to see how the Darwin Dictatorship can survive this continual onslaught.  The Darwin Party must feel like North Korean leaders watching helplessly as their country is bombarded by colorful, gift-laden balloons those mission boards keep launching to the starving, brainwashed victims enslaved within.  The soldiers try to arrest seekers from picking them up or looking at them, but they can’t stop them all, nor explain them away with the usual propaganda.  Silently and relentlessly, the bright and cheery salvo proclaims to the captives, “Hang on; have faith – the darkness will end, and freedom will be your destiny.”
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsAmazing Facts
Scientists Force Rapid Natural Selection in Lizards   11/16/2006    
Scientists transported a predator to a Caribbean island and watched some of the lizards evolve longer legs to run faster.  Then, as some of them took to climbing trees, their hind legs grew shorter.  They are calling this a test of natural selection, and are amazed the effects took effect so rapidly – in one generation, even.
    EurekAlert commented, “Countering the widespread view of evolution as a process played out over the course of eons, evolutionary biologists have shown that natural selection can turn on a dime – within months – as a population’s needs change.”  The story was also reported on Live Science, National Geographic, The Times Online (UK), and New Scientist, which are calling this “natural selection at work” and claiming “This demonstrates that evolutionary biology can be a predictive, experimental science like any other.
And their point is....?  If any of these scientists or reporters think for a minute that this is another arrow in Darwin’s quiver to shoot down creationism, they need to face the tanks.  Creationists already accept limited amounts of natural selection on a microevolutionary scale.  This is not the kind of evolution that is going to help them explain the origin of lizards.  This is like the old peppered myth.  There were probably already long-legged and short-legged variants in existence before the experiment; all that happened was a population shift.  Besides, the genes for legs and the brains to use them were already there.  If you put short people and tall people in a race with a mountain lion chasing them, you already know the outcome.  What kind of predictive science is that?  Where is the evolution?  And where are the environmentalists who should be screaming at these scientists for introducing a non-native species into a fragile ecosystem?
    Take your pick for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week from these silly articles.  A researcher in the New Scientist piece made it sound like the lizards decided to evolve: “These lizards are no dummies,” he said.  “Natural selection can turn on a dime,” as if that thought is worth one.  National Geographic quoted a scientist spilling too many beans while bragging about this observational evidence for evolution: “In most cases in evolutionary biology,” he admitted, “you have to look back and speculate what might have happened.”  Live Science called this a reptilian version of “Survivor.”  OK, time to change channels.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyDarwinian EvolutionDumb Ideas
Related entries:  12/03/2003, 04/18/2003, 01/16/2003
Why your brain has gray matter, and why you should use it, from 01/13/2006.

Darwin Can’t Find His Tree of Life    11/15/2006  
The “tree of life,” a branching pattern of evolutionary diversification, was the only illustration in Darwin’s Origin of Species.  In 1859, it only existed in his imagination as he speculated, with only circumstantial evidence based on similarities, that all living things descended from a common ancestor.  The fossil record did not show such a tree.  Darwin expected the record would be filled in by subsequent discoveries (but cf. 04/23/2006).  He could not have anticipated the revolution in genomics of the 20th century.  Neo-Darwinists met these discoveries with great anticipation that Darwin’s tree of life would now become visible in the genetic codes impressed in the cell of every organism.  Richard Dawkins predicted in A Devil’s Chaplain (2003, p. 272),

...there is, after all, one true tree of life, the unique pattern of evolutionary branchings that actually happened.  It exists.  It is in principle knowable.  We don’t know it all yet.  By 2050 we should – or if we do not, we shall have been defeated only at the terminal twigs, by the sheer number of species.
We are now at a stage where enough data have been published, including complete genomes of dozens of plants and animals, such that an assessment is now possible to see if a tree is coming into focus.  In addition, we have decades of comparative studies of proteins from different organisms.  A status report of sorts was published this week by Antonis Rokas and Sean B. Carroll in PLoS Biology.1  Though they began with Dawkins’ optimistic prophecy, the news is not good.  They see multiple bushes, not a tree.  These two evolutionary biologists admit that not only is a tree pattern indecipherable, it may never become visible, even as more data are added:
Genome analyses are delivering unprecedented amounts of data from an abundance of organisms, raising expectations that in the near future, resolving the tree of life (TOL) will simply be a matter of data collection.  However, recent analyses of some key clades in life’s history have produced bushes and not resolved trees.  The patterns observed in these clades are both important signals of biological history and symptoms of fundamental challenges that must be confronted.  Here we examine how the combination of the spacing of cladogenetic events and the high frequency of independently evolved characters (homoplasy) limit the resolution of ancient divergences.  Because some histories may not be resolvable by even vast increases in amounts of conventional data, the identification of new molecular characters will be crucial to future progress.
This frank admission by two believers in common ancestry demonstrates that molecular genetics has not delivered the hoped-for pattern: “Obtaining an accurate depiction of the evolutionary history of all living organisms has been and remains one of biology’s great challenges.”
    In addition to the problem of homoplasy (convergent evolution, or the independent origin of similar traits), the authors point to unexpected groupings that came out of molecular studies.  One study resulted in a grouping of “strikingly different mammals including elephants, aardvarks, manatees, and golden moles” in the same clade.  The pace of change presents another problem: some molecular events were explosively rapid, while others remained undisturbed (conserved) for hundreds of millions of years.  Opposite conclusions are sometimes reached depending on the method used.  Rokas and Carroll give an example of two papers within the same issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution that confirmed and falsified the existence of a certain group.  It’s not simply a matter that some methods are more accurate than others.  “The observed conflicts are not dependent on the optimality criterion used,” they said.  The problem is real, and it’s pervasive.
    It’s hard to tell if this paper is an admission of failure and hopelessness, or a call for a brief time out before an optimistic new charge:
Here we discuss how and why certain critical parts of the TOL [tree of life] may be difficult to resolve, regardless of the quantity of conventional data available.  We do not mean this essay to be a comprehensive review of molecular systematics.  Rather, we have focused on the emerging evidence from genome-scale studies on several branches of the TOL that sharply contrasts with viewpoints—such as that in the opening quotation—which imply that the assembly of all branches of the TOL will simply be a matter of data collection.  We view this difficulty in obtaining full resolution of particular clades—when given substantial data—as both biologically informative and a pressing methodological challenge.  The recurring discovery of persistently unresolved clades (bushes) should force a re-evaluation of several widely held assumptions of molecular systematics.  Now, as the field is transformed from a data-limited to an analysis-limited discipline, it is an opportune time to do so.
Most of the paper is taken up with examples.  For instance, despite what the media have often claimed, there is conflicting evidence linking humans to chimpanzees: “Specifically, analyses of almost 100 genes (under two different optimality criteria) show that ~55% of genes support a human-chimpanzee clade, 40% are evenly split among the two alternative topologies, with the remaining genes being uninformative” – and this is for two species considered so closely related, some political activists are advocating granting human rights to chimpanzees.
    To exhibit the scale of the problems, they list four notable “bushes” in the tree of life.  Notice how these are spread all over the evolutionary time scale:
(A) The human/chimpanzee/gorilla tree (5-8 million years ago).
(B) The elephant/sirenian/hyrax bush (57-65 million years ago).
(C) The tetrapod/coelacanth/lungfish bush (370-390 million years ago).
(D) The metazoan superbush (>550 million years ago).

They did not select these to be isolated examples.  These cases, despite getting the most detailed analysis by molecular phylogenists, are representative of the problems pervading the entire record.  Notice their use of words like “majority” and “large fraction” to indicate the scale of the challenge to Darwinian expectations:
Three observations generally hold true across metazoan datasets that indicate the pervasive influence of homoplasy at these evolutionary depths.  First, a large fraction of single genes produce phylogenies of poor quality.  For example, Wolf and colleagues omitted 35% of single genes from their data matrix, because those genes produced phylogenies at odds with conventional wisdom (Figure 2D).  Second, in all studies, a large fraction of characters—genes, PICs or RGCs2disagree with the optimal phylogeny, indicating the existence of serious conflict in the DNA record.  For example, the majority of PICs conflict with the optimal topology in the Dopazo and Dopazo study.  Third, the conflict among these and other studies in metazoan phylogenetics is occurring at very “high” taxonomic levelsabove or at the phylum level.
If the best techniques applied to the most detailed data sets show these conflicts, it cannot be expected that poorer methods on smaller data sets will do any better.  Clearly, this is not a crisis that is going to go away with more data.
    So are molecular phylogenists “barking up the wrong trees,” they ask?  Is there “systematic bias” in tree-building efforts to date, that can “positively mislead phylogenetic inference”?  (see 06/08/2006).  Some sources of bias, like long-branch attraction, are understood.  If not careful, researchers can create trees out of wishful thinking: “Thus, a priori expectations of obtaining fully resolved topologies combined with the use of large amounts of data (which generate high support values) can make trees out of bushes.”  Researchers might just be engaged in self-fulfilling prophecy.  If this were the only source of bias, it might be possible to account for it, but Rokas and Carroll have shown that no method is consistently resolving one tree out of the bushes.
    Now for the recommendations.  Is there any hope?  If so, it is not in more data:
“Can we realistically hope to resolve diversification events spanning a few or even tens of millions of years that occurred in deep time?  It is widely accepted that nucleotide data are of limited use for resolving deep divergences because of mutational saturation and homoplasy.  Until the recent expansion in available data, it has not been possible to fully explore what the limits of the protein record might be.  Like others in the field, we also had expectations that scaling up dataset size would be sufficient to resolve interesting groups.  The evidence presented here suggests that large amounts of conventional characters will not always suffice, even if analyzed by state-of-the-art methodology.  Just as it would be futile to use radioisotopes with modest half lives to date ancient rocks, it appears unrealistic to expect conventional linear, homoplasy-sensitive sequences to reliably resolve series of events that transpired in a small fraction of deep time.  Although we have known this from theory, we are now confronted with the actual pattern of molecular evolution.
The recommendations are: (1) the “prevalence and causes of homoplasy need to be better understood” and (2) “molecular systematics must now move beyond conventional characters and mine genomic data for new, less-homoplastic characters such as RGCs” [rare genomic changes].  This second plan, though is subject to confusion because of the widespread incidence of horizontal gene transfer and lineage sorting.  Earlier in the paper, Rokas and Carroll expressed frustration that the very stems in the tree of most interest to evolutionists are the very ones with the most problems:
Thus, absolutely or relatively short stems present distinct challenges that could be described as the bane of the molecular systematist.  Yet, it is precisely these stems—associated with some of the most interesting episodes in life’s history—that most intrigue the evolutionist.  Analyses of large molecular datasets from clades at different time depths of the TOL illustrate how short stems, whether placed just 6 million or 600 million years in the past, can confound phylogenetic resolution.
What to do?  When the tree of life is a lemon tree, make lemonade.  The authors ended by asking, “What’s wrong with bushes?”  Nothing, if you are willing to be called a heretic:
A bush in which series of cladogenetic events lie crammed and unresolved within a small section of a larger tree does harbour historical information.  Although it may be heresy to say so, it could be argued that knowing that strikingly different groups form a clade and that the time spans between the branching of these groups must have been very short, makes the knowledge of the branching order among groups potentially a secondary concern.
    For example, the lack of phylogenetic resolution at the base of the tetrapod/lungfish/coelacanth clade has not hampered in the least evolutionary research on the anatomical changes that occurred early on in the evolution of the tetrapod lineage.  Similarly, if the origin of most bilaterian phyla was compressed in time, more than 550 million years later it may matter little to know the exact relationships between most phyla to understand the evolution of the molecular tool kit that enabled the evolution of the body plans of the 35 or so animal phyla.
    We submit that if the current efforts to assemble the TOL have, by 2050 (if not much sooner), assembled an arborescent bush of life, Dawkins’ prediction will have come to fruition.
Translated, this may either mean that evolutionary thinking can proceed without evidence for a tree of life, or that there is still hope that somewhere hidden in the foliage there is a single trunk waiting to be found: the disparate bushes will become a single “arborescent bush of life.”  For now, it’s an article of faith foundering on confusing and contradictory evidence.
1 Antonis Rokas, Sean B. Carroll, “Bushes in the Tree of Life,” Public Library of Science Biology, 4(11): e352. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040352.
2Abbreviations: TOL, tree of life; PIC, parsimony-informative character; RGC, rare genomic change.
Folks, do you have any idea how damaging this paper is?  Darwinism has been falsified.  It’s over.  We may as well dance on the grave of Charlie D, because both of the greatest hopes for confirming his tall tale have falsified it: the fossil record and the genetic record.  For Rokas and Carroll to have any hope now is as pathetic as watching a Las Vegas gambler continue on after being told the slot machine is broken and there is no money in it.
    Incredibly, these evolutionists do continue on in spite of the lack of evidence.  They do exactly what Charlie himself did: trust their imaginations.  Dawkins believes that the magical tree exists.  He accepts this myth, and the other evolutionists have so devoted their lies, their distortions, and their sacrilegious dishonor so much to it, that no amount of falsification will stop them.  The search must go on, till 2050 or beyond (after they are long dead), so that Charlie’s Myth can inspire a new generation of dreamers.  And Dawkins has the audacity to claim that creationists are the ones believing in fairy tales.
    You realize that a series of bushes does not look like evolution; it looks like creation.  The universality of the genetic code ensures that the phyla did not evolve independently.  Since they cannot connect the dots from a universal common ancestor to the plethora of organisms alive today, the dots are imaginary – no better than a Kipling tale.  The evidence is very consistent, by contrast, with a single Creator who made separate groupings of plants and animals that reproduce after their kind (with variability), while still exhibiting a common underlying plan.
    The only claim to authority and public trust that the evolutionary biologist can appeal to is empirical evidence.  This is what the Darwinists think makes their beliefs superior to religion.  For example, if you go to a new BBC Education site for kids, it will continue to propound the idea that religious truth is based on faith, while scientific truth is based on empirical evidence.
This same site also has a section on Evolution that blatantly presents known falsehoods about evolutionary evidence, including peppered moths, finch beaks and the horse series, while claiming that the fossil record proves evolution.  Each of these icons has been refuted in scientific journals and scholarly books, often written by believers in evolution.  Are the webmasters of Bite-Size Science merely uninformed about this, or are they deliberately deceiving students to promote an agenda?
The assumption of empirical support has been the main thing the Darwin Party has preached gives them superiority in truth claims and the right to rule the schools.  Only their myth gets exclusivity in “science” class.  Everyone else’s view must be consigned to the funny farm known as “religious studies.”
    That was then.  This is now.  Their assumed empirical evidence has vanished, leaving them with nothing but vivid imaginations to keep their creation myth intact.  Read what Rokas and Carroll have said, and then re-read what Marshall said about the fossil record in the 04/23/2006 entry (ignoring the spin, just examining the evidence).  We no longer need to claim Darwinian evolution has been falsified; they did it for us.  Q.E.D.  Mission accomplished.  Fait accompli.  Done deal.  Way to go.  High five.  Glory to God.  Now, let’s get back on the road to the real Tree of Life.  But this time, let’s follow the Manufacturer’s directions.
Boy, was that a bad detour, or what? (11/30/2005).
Next headline on:  GeneticsDarwinian Evolution
Related entries:  07/25/2002, 06/13/2003, 08/11/2003, 09/09/2004, 10/01/2005, 11/14/2005, 01/18/2006, 06/08/2006
Consider the complexity that helps plants stand up, from 10/26/2001.

Darwin Credited with Intelligent Design    11/14/2006  
Exclusive  In an unusual mix of metaphors, a pioneer in advanced computing technology gave a lecture at JPL on 11/14 entitled, “Intelligent Design: Using Evolution to Create Complex Systems.”  By evolution, it was clear that astronomer Dr. Richard Terrile meant the Darwinian kind.  The point of his presentation was that humans can mimic the processes of Darwinian evolution – random mutation and natural selection – to build more powerful problem-solving systems.  After all, that’s what biological evolution did, he claimed, when it created eyes, hearts, brains and the most complex, optimized structures in the world.
    Dr. Terrile noted how a Macintosh laptop resembles a human brain in terms of mass, volume and power requirements, but falls short of computing power by 1/50,000.  Moore’s Law assures that we’re catching up, though.  Unfortunately, he said, software design has not kept up with the explosive growth in computational power.  The future lies not in staying the course with outmoded methods of software engineering, but in mimicking how nature solved complex problems: by evolution.
    The evolutionary process begins with an informational system – a genome.1  From there, the algorithm is simple: mutate, select, repeat.  Out of the astronomical random combinations that result, some .02% may be beneficial.  Evolution is very adept at sifting out the worthless variants and capitalizing on the tiny fraction of useful ones, he explained.  Given the Himalayas, evolution will find Mt. Everest.  Not only that, evolution itself evolves.  On a second level, evolution can help a system decide the best way to select the optimal variants.  Applying evolutionary computing to data analysis, for instance, can discover optimum ways to perform data analysis.
    With a touch of humor, Dr. Terrile recognized that his mixed references to “intelligent design” and “Darwinism” might be a little inflammatory, no less his title slide with the image of Michelangelo’s creator.  It was apparent throughout the presentation, though, that he really believed that the methods his new Center for Evolutionary Computing is employing exactly mimic the processes of biological evolution.  The audience of geeks and gurus interested in this cutting-edge approach to complex systems development, sitting intently, seemed to accept this premise without question.


1Dr. Terrile caught himself assuming the prior existence of an information system.  He discussed briefly how the universal genetic code spelled in DNA is optimized against point mutations.  The chance of that arising naturally, he conceded was one in a million.  Therefore, “there must have been some pre-evolution on a molecular scale,” he speculated.  See online book for problems with natural selection acting prior to replication.
If you need evidence that some of the smartest people in the world can believe the dumbest things, look no further than this case.  The methods of “evolutionary computing” have nothing to do with Darwinian evolution and everything to do with intelligent design.  What was doing the selecting?  Intelligence.  What was designing the “fitness function”?  Intelligence.  What was setting the design requirements, the constraints, the algorithm, and the target?  Intelligence.  Who built the hardware and the software?  Who had a purpose and organized the ingredients toward that purpose?  Who decided at the end of the run that the outcome was suitable?  Human minds.  This was the work of intelligent design from start to finish, from input to output, from concept to reality.  Darwin had nothing to do with it.
    When you add intelligent causes to Darwinism, it ceases to be Darwinism.  Charlie envisioned a world of unguided, purposeless, uncaring, random processes with no goal: i.e., evolution, not evaluation.  If these experts want to imitate Darwinism, they should take their intelligent hands off the equipment and let come what may.  If their computers go extinct, so be it.  But to claim their highly-advanced, skilled, goal-oriented efforts are Darwinian is absurd.  This is not evolutionary computing, but the latest in iterative and recursive design engineering.  Crediting Charlie for this is like crediting Las Vegas for the space program.  (That’s Las Vegas, incidentally, with the people removed, and the machines running themselves.  Better yet, Las Vegas before man arrived—just a rocky desert receiving copious amounts of energy from the sun and earthquakes—perfect conditions for the emergence of complex systems.)
    Dr. Terrile felt it politically expedient to disparage intelligent design several times in his lecture.  He inserted remarks to assure the audience he was using the phrase “intelligent design” only in a humorous, provocative way, making it clear he was not one of “them” but is a certified Darwinian.   His slides included the icons of biological organisms rising higher in complexity, from bacteria to brain, paralleling the evolution of computer technology (the fallacy of association).  Yet the substance of his methodology and technology was all about intelligent design, not evolution.  Assuming that the guidance of random variations toward design goals is evolutionary, not ID, is worse than shooting oneself in the foot.  It is shooting oneself in the brain.
    One of the best critiques of “evolutionary algorithms” is No Free Lunch by William Dembski.  A critique of digital evolution by Royal Truman can be found at the ISCID site.  You can also find prior entries on digital evolution from 05/08/2003, 07/04/2004, and 08/20/2002.
    And now, ladies and gentlemen, you can do your own digital evolution experiment online!  Run Perry Marshall’s Random Mutation Generator.  As with all computer games, be sure to read the instructions.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryIntelligent DesignDumb Ideas
It’s Hard to Break a Bone    11/14/2006  
People wearing a cast right now may not feel comfortable, but should be thankful it’s hard to break a bone.  Scientists at Max Planck Institute discovered “a novel construction principle at the nanoscale which prevents bones from breaking at excessive force,” making them “nearly unbreakable.”  Because of the way the rigid components of bone tissue are arranged in a hierarchical structure, the ability for bones to deform and absorb strain far exceeds the ability of the components themselves.
    There was no mention of evolution in the press release, but there was mention of “natural design principles.”  The scientists also thought bone design could be utilized by engineers:
The natural design principles quantitatively observed here in bone – hierarchical deformation, matrix sensitivity, and nanoscale strengthening – may provide guidelines for the development of bio-inspired and new nanocomposite materials as well.  Furthermore it may help bone biologists to understand how a molecular level change can cause whole bones to become more prone to fracture in diseases like osteoporosis.
The press release is based on a paper by Gupta et al in PNAS,1 “Cooperative deformation of mineral and collagen in bone at the nanoscale.”  There was no mention of evolution there, either.  They ended,
We believe that the effective load sharing mechanism between mineral and collagen may result in damage shielding, which prevents the fibrils from being exposed to excessive strains.  The hierarchy of deformation mechanisms observed in bone may guide us in designing new strong nanocomposite materials.

1Gupta et al, “Cooperative deformation of mineral and collagen in bone at the nanoscale” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0604237103, published online before print November 9, 2006.
“Natural design principles.”  Interesting phrase.  It has the D word, but is nondescript enough to avoid tripping red alarms on the NCSE radar.  Maybe they need to tighten their algorithms.  If a paper mentions design but not evolution, alert the ACLU.
    The theory of intelligent design states that certain features of the natural world are best explained as the result of intelligent causes, rather than as the result of undirected natural causes.  How could you get a hierarchically arranged system by undirected natural causes?  Suppose there was deformation at the nanoscale, but not at the millimeter or centimeter scale.  Bones would not be nearly as resistant to breakage.  How many fish and amphibians had to die of broken bones before all the levels of the hierarchy arrived independently at their own optimum design principle?  Remember, evolution does not allow for coordinated effects toward a common design goal.  Do an experiment: try the Random Mutation Generator simultaneously at the letter, word, sentence, paragraph, page and chapter levels independently, and see if you get a meaningful book.
    This article illustrates again that science would get on just fine without Darwinism.  The authors had no need of that hypothesis.  They would have done the same experiments with the same equipment, drawn the same charts and graphs, and reached the same conclusions had they been working explicitly on the basis of intelligent design.  Tacking on a Darwinian tale about how bones got this way would have been useless and pointless – a mere wishbone.  Thinking “design” at the outset, by contrast, would have motivated them to expect to see design, and to find it.  Furthermore, it would have stimulated even more interest in imitating the design.
    So we’ve got a bone to pick with the Darwin Party.  The strain of accumulating facts has deformed your theory beyond the breaking point, leaving it limp and lame.  Intelligent design is the biology and biophysics of the 21st century.  No dead-Charlie bones about it.
Next headline on:  Human BodyBiomimeticsPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
How Not to Date a Volcano    11/13/2006  
Two teams of geologists looked at the same volcano field in Nevada.  One (1994) decided that the cones and lava flows formed during multiple episodes over tens or even hundreds of thousands of years.  Another (2006) looked at the same evidence and decided everything probably happened within months.  Who’s right?
    A team of six volcanologists from Los Alamos investigated Crater Flat, Nevada, and published their conclusions in GSA Bulletin.1  They think the earlier study was flawed.  The way they see it, there was one eruptive episode that produced Red Cone, Black Cone and several others in the area, along with all their extensive lava flows.  Just because lava flows look different, that doesn’t mean they happened at different times, they said; the differences could be due to varying initial conditions, like water content and thickness of the lava or degree of slope.
Three major surface features—scoria cones, lava fields with abundant rafts of pyroclastic material, and lava fields with little or no pyroclastic material—experienced different posteruptive surficial processes.  Failure to account for the different initial surface features can lead to erroneous conclusions about the relative ages of the surfaces based upon modern morphology.  Conversely, the recognition of different volcanic surfaces provides the opportunity to study the effects of different initial properties upon posteruptive geomorphic processes.  Contrary to previous interpretations that the individual volcanoes were emplaced by polycyclic eruptions (separated by thousands or tens of thousands of years), we argue that the Pleistocene Crater Flat volcanoes are monogenetic, each having formed in a single eruptive episode lasting up to a few years.  We show that all eruptive products emanated from the areas of the volcanoes’ main cones rather than from scattered vents, as inferred by previous workers.
Later in the paper, the authors said that the previous workers pointed to features that “would imply time gaps of many tens to hundreds of thousands of years.”  By contrast, their scenario could have taken place in as little as nine months.
    Observations that they feel misled the earlier team included apparent secondary vents emerging through the lava flows, and different amounts and types of erosion from one flow to another.  Valentine et al now say that these were not secondary vents at all, but either remnants of the original cone that got rafted downslope by lava flows from the base, or were “squeeze-up ridges, roughly parallel to the flow margin, caused by pulses of lava behind a slowing flow front.”  As for the erosional differences, these could be explained by the consistency of the lava, the effusion rate and the degree of slope.  In other words, all the observations could be fit within a single eruptive episode lasting days, weeks, months, or a few years at most.
    The authors believe these eruptions took place about a million years ago.  This estimate, however, is based on magnetic data, not bulk appearance of the lava.  They cherry-picked a date fitting the assumed potassium-argon (K-Ar) ballpark date into the nearest estimated period of magnetic reversal: “Flows of all of the volcanoes have reversed magnetic polarity, indicating that, if all the volcanoes are close to the same age, they are either older than 1.07 Ma or younger than 0.99 Ma (Fig. 2); for simplicity in this paper, we refer to the age of these volcanoes as ca. 1 Ma.”  They did not question the dating of these magnetic reversals, however, which are subject to their own uncertainties.
    How certain are the potassium-argon dates?  “Six independent K-Ar and 40Ar/39Ar studies have been conducted since 1990 to determine the ages of these five volcanoes (Fig. 2), and the results are difficult to interpret,” they lamented.  “Age estimates for any one volcano typically have uncertainties of 100-200 k.y. and a large range of individual age determinations, leaving a detailed understanding of the age relationships between volcanoes uncertain, as well as the possibility of a span of ages at individual volcanoes.”  Their own research seems to illustrate the point.
    Volcanoes are common features around the world.  Many can be witnessed in action today, from the liquidy fire-fountains in Hawaii, to the explosive stratovolcanoes like Mt. St. Helens.  One would think the common types of volcanoes found at Crater Flat are well understood and their eruptive and post-eruptive processes have been thoroughly documented.  Not so; in their introduction, the authors complained,
Despite being one of the most common types of continental volcanoes and presenting hazards to urbanized areas, such as Mexico City (Siebe et al., 2004), and to the proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste repository (e.g., Crowe, 1986; Dartevelle and Valentine, 2005), the eruptive processes of small-volume basaltic volcanoes (composed of cones, lava flows, and fallout deposits with total volumes of ~1 km3 or less) have received relatively little attention in the volcanological literature.  Much remains unknown about the ranges of explosive and effusive processes associated with their eruptions.  The role of preexisting topography and the interaction between lava flows and cone building have not been explored in detail, nor has the influence of emplacement processes on posteruptive surficial processes.

1Valentine et al, “Small-volume basaltic volcanoes: Eruptive products and processes, and posteruptive geomorphic evolution in Crater Flat (Pleistocene), southern Nevada,” GSA Bulletin, Volume 118, Issue 11 (November 2006), pp. 1313–1330.
Imagine you are a church-going high school student in Nevada in 1994, and your teacher takes your class out on a geology field trip to Crater Flat.  Using information he just read in popular-science reviews of the 1994 paper, the teacher points out features of the lava flow, the cone, the amount and types of erosion – some gullies on the cone, rifts and rilles in the lava, slumping and overburden, mounds that look like secondary vents – to prove that there had been multiple episodes of eruption spanning tens of thousands of years – maybe even hundreds of thousands.  He makes a convincing case.  The evidence, after all, is right in front of you.  It sure looks old.  Some of the flows are highly degraded and overgrown with brush and sand, while others are fresh-looking and undisturbed.  There are even younger-looking cones emerging from underneath the older lava.
    Your doubts about the Biblical chronology grow in proportion to your increasing admiration for science’s ability to describe the history of the world in vivid detail.  The onslaught against your faith is supplemented by what your biology teacher is showing the class about evolution.  Over time, you find you have slid gradually into belief in scientism.  You go to the university and become a hardened evolutionist.  Church and youth group and your former acceptance of the Bible’s history become distant memories.  You take part in school board hearings to fight even weak attempts to add scientific criticisms to Darwinism in public education.  You read Dawkins’s latest book, The God Delusion with a snicker at those poor suckers who rely on “faith” instead of “science,” who still believe the Bible stories of creation and the Flood that were once a part of your own happy childhood.  Parents should not deceive their children like that, you ponder with anger mixed with sadness, and a touch of nostalgia.
    What is the likelihood that a little paper in GSA Today, appearing 12 years after your slide into atheism began, will cross your path?  Its message, now unheeded, says, “whoops, we were wrong about those lava flows in Nevada; apparently they all formed within one year.”  Even if you were to read it now, it’s probably too late.  The furrow that began to be carved back then in high school has become a deep trench.  You would probably brush this announcement off, even if you found it, with the thought that one paper doesn’t affect the mountains of evidence for evolution and millions of years.
    This is one way lives can be diverted from Christian faith by lies and misdirection, well-meaning as some of the sources may be, because they did not understand the limitations of scientific epistemology.  We’ve seen testimonies like this by evolutionary scientists who grew up in Christian homes.  Charles Darwin himself provides a classic example.  Reading Lyell on the Beagle, he witnessed South American canyons that were interpreted to take long ages, when in fact, they were the result of catastrophic events.  Similar stories abound today.  Whether through peer pressure, lack of contrary information or whatever, students began to trust the words of overconfident teachers who present science as the truth, instead of a fallible, human attempt to seek for the truth about the natural world.
    For those still under the illusion that scientific knowledge is progressive, notice how this is a case of oscillation, not cumulative progress.  An earlier (1981) study also concluded that the Crater Flat volcanic field was monogenetic, till the 1994 study overturned it.  Now we’re back to the monogenetic story.  No human can have any confidence that the story will not change again.  If this were an isolated case, we might dismiss it as an anomaly.  The authors told us, however, that these common types of volcanoes have received “relatively little attention” in the literature of the volcano experts, and that “much remains to be understood.”  Those replying, “Well, at least we know the events took place a million years ago, not a few thousand,” haven’t gotten the message.  Observations do not interpret themselves.  The authors used the words interpret or interpretation 22 times, including a few statements that the data are difficult to interpret and can be misinterpreted.  That includes the K-Ar dates and the magnetic reversals.  Cone-shaped structures looked like vents to the earlier group of scientists, but like squeeze-up ridges to the other.  Eroded channels in the cone implied long ages to one group, but differences in composition to another.  Smooth, fan-shaped lobate deposits implied millennia of erosion to one group, but effects of initial conditions to the other.
    The potential for wide divergences of opinion in interpreting observations cannot be overemphasized.  Almost every field of science has undergone a revolution since 1900.  Even our concepts of atoms, the universe, the earth, and life are drastically different today than they were a century ago.  We’ve seen many examples of radical reinterpretations of things in just the six years of Creation-Evolution Headlines.  Does anyone believe that we have arrived at “the truth” about any of these fields, let alone the final word on these Nevada volcanoes?
    There’s nothing about the Crater Flat observations that is inconsistent with the view that these volcanoes erupted quite recently, but were just not witnessed by humans (or humans who kept written records).  Don’t build your epistemology on the sand of “what scientists are saying today.”  Don’t trust your future to the religion of scientism, the faith that fallible humans are making progress toward understanding the origin and fate of the Earth, life and the universe.
    For similar stories, see 10/25/2006 about Niagara Gorge, 10/15/2006 about instant gold, 08/08/2006 about ice cores, 05/10/2006 about Mt. St. Helens, 03/22/2006 about stromatolites, 03/05/2006 about Arizona lava flows, 06/27/2003 about ultra-pure sandstones, 07/22/2002 about Grand Canyon, and many more links on Geology and Dating Methods.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
Dinosaur Bone Soft Tissue Questioned, Defended   11/11/2006    
The subject of soft tissue in dinosaur bones came up at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Meeting earlier this month, reported Science.1  Mary Schweitzer was there, defending her spectacular claim that she had discovered both medullary bone (06/03/2006) and soft, pliable blood vessels and cartilage in a T. rex leg bone (03/24/2005).  Doubters, however, brought up another possibility:
But skeptics have another, less sexy, explanation for the tissue: the replacement of original tissue by microbes.  Thomas Kaye, a full-time amateur paleontologist in Prospect Heights, Illinois, examined wellpreserved bone from four kinds of late-Cretaceous dinosaurs using a scanning electron microscope and sees signs that microbes have replaced the original tissue.  During 200 hours of observations, Kaye found hollow vascular canals like those of Schweitzer’s specimen.  But he also discovered evidence that microbes had moved through a thick film.  In some samples, this film had dried out and had a carbon-14 date of 1960-1970.  As for the structures resembling cells called osteocytes, Kaye and colleagues think they could be microbes that filled in a void in the bone.
    Hans Larsson, a paleontologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, says the theory of microbial replacement is “totally logical” and that carbon-14 dating should be done to rule out modern biofilms.  The debate is expected to continue.  “The proof is going to be tricky,” Larsson says. “It’s going to take years.”
Schweitzer defended her claims.  Further studies in her lab have shown “what appears to be collagen, which could be authentic dinosaur protein.”  She even found short sequences of peptides that match collagen.  The patterns of collagen match those of a living emu.  David Martill (U of Portsmouth, UK), a colleague not present at the meeting, remarked, “Looks like collagen, behaves like collagen, and it’s 68 million years old.  How cool is that?”  More evidence was produced that cannot be so easily explained away:
The egg-laying tissue, called medullary bone, was previously known only in living birds.  Ovulating females rapidly create this mineral-rich tissue inside their legs and other bones as a storehouse for calcium for making eggshell.  In a paper in Science (3 June 2005, p.  1456), Schweitzer and her colleagues compared the fossilized leg bone of a roughly 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex with modern ostrich bone, showing many similarities.
    Now Sarah Werning and Andrew Lee, graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley, and paleontologist Paul Bybee of Utah Valley State College in Orem have found medullary bone in two other kinds of dinosaurs.  Looking at a nearly 150-million-year-old tibia of the large predator Allosaurus fragilis from Utah, the trio found a layer of bone in which the tissue was disorganized and replete with traces of blood vessels, suggesting it had grown quickly.  “It was really convincing,” says paleontologist Martin Sander of the University of Bonn, Germany.
Not only that, “The same pattern turned up in a femur and tibia of an approximately 110-million-year-old Tenontosaurus tilletti from Montana.”  Yet this species is a member of the Ornithischia, part of a deep split from the Saurischia, to which the other specimens belonged.  Since both major groups now are found with medullary bone, evolutionists are forced to believe this specialized tissue formation process originated in a common ancestor far earlier.  Werning remarked, “This really pushes [the origin] back.
1News focus, “Soft Tissue in Dinosaur Fossils? The Evidence Hardens,” Science, 10 November 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5801, p. 920, DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5801.920.
The report hints at a lively meeting.  It is certainly fair, and even desirable, for scientists to propose alternative explanations for surprising discoveries.  The soft-tissue claim was a huge surprise.  The burden of proof is on Schweitzer (though she seems to be holding the mountaintop well).  But merely tossing out a what-if rebuttal can be a dodge.  The research with this material must continue to be pursued diligently and carefully, because the implications are enormous.  Look again at the pictures (MSNBC).  Kids at Science Buzz seem jazzed by the announcement.  The high-res photos on this Science Museum of Minnesota website sure look like real tissues.
    How plausible is this new alternative suggestion that microbial biofilms are merely mimicking the soft tissue?  Consider what we already know, and questions that should be leveled against the microbe hypothesis:
  1. Surprise effect: This was an unexpected discovery by a scientist with no axe to grind against long ages or evolution.
  2. Microbial longevity: Are they claiming these microbes have been living and reproducing in the bone for 68 million years?
  3. Microbial stasis: If the answer to #2 is yes, have the microbes remained locked in position all that time so that they still resemble the original tissues they replaced?
  4. Collagen: Doesn’t the identification of collagen peptides falsify the microbe hypothesis?
  5. Dating: Could not the recent carbon-14 date represent contamination since excavation?
  6. Treatment: How could microbial biofilm mimic ostrich tissue after treatment, and in solution?
  7. Comparison: How could microbes survive lab extraction processes and imitate soft tissues, blood vessels and blood cells, so as to fool a trained scientist comparing it side-by-side with ostrich tissue?
  8. The medullary bone is not disputed; how could that survive 68 million years? (06/03/2006)
  9. New medullary bone finds are said to be even older: how could those survive 150 million years?
  10. How could the medullary bone system, and its linkage to egg-laying, evolve in an even-older ancestor?
  11. Why would the ancient medullary bone resemble that of a modern emu, if evolution implies constant change?
  12. Are critics merely proposing a story to avoid the implications of the find, i.e., that these tissues cannot be millions of years old?
The article advised that further tests “should” be done to rule out modern biofilms.  By all means.  Otherwise, this gives a fake foothold to skeptics to dismiss one of the two most astonishing dinosaur discoveries of the past year.  Extraordinary claims may require extraordinary evidence, but the protagonist has made a strong case.  Now it appears the critics’ rebuttal is looking extraordinary, so the requirement cuts both ways.
Notice another example of evolutionary question-begging in the article: “At the meeting, another group reported further evidence of egg-laying tissue, suggesting that it evolved early in dinosaur history.”  It suggests nothing of the kind.  The “further evidence” had nothing to do with Darwinism.  It’s fragile medullary bone, part of a complex system that supplies calcium during egg-laying and does not normally fossilize, and now other researchers have found more examples in other species, in other locations, some more than twice the assumed age of the first one.  Moreover, these samples come from two major groups of dinosaurs.
    Now, in order to maintain their story, they have to push the imaginary common ancestor of this complex system way, way back into the mythical past.  This should have astonished, embarrassed and humbled the evolutionists.  So what did they do, instead?  They twisted the evidence into their tale, like cave men taking a manuscript they do not understand and using it to stoke their campfire, or like pagan priests seeing a meteorite fall, and offering it in the temple of their idol.
    If the evolutionists are going to take their jolly time to resolve this debate, creationists should put the pressure on.  Creation dinosaur digs (e.g., 05/21/2002, 07/23/2003) with well-trained leaders should get out and find more soft-tissue evidence, documenting and photographing everything carefully from start to finish, till no doubt remains.  The burden of proof needs to shift back to the people who made the first extraordinary claim: that the mighty beasts of the earth, and all living things, with all their complex systems, made themselves.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsBirdsDating Methods
Urchin Genome Hyped by Media as Human Cousin   11/10/2006    
The publication of a new genome for a plant or animal is becoming routine.  For some reason, the news media instantly jumped on claims that the genome of the sea urchin, published in Science, means that evolution is all but figured out, and that we should each feel a special place in our hearts for these our brethren.  Examples of press releases emphasizing our kinship to these spiny ocean-bottom creatures:
  • Baylor College of Medicine:  On EurekAlert, “Decoded sea urchin genome shows surprising relationship to man: Discoveries include novel immune system, unexpected sensory proteins and broad similarity to human genes.”
  • Carnegie MellonEurekAlert says the genome will prove useful for research into “evolutionary relationships with humans and other vertebrates.”
  • Mt. Desert Island Biological LaboratoryEurekAlert’s copy of the press release says, “Scientists makes good use of its surprising similarity to humans.”  It also stresses, “sea urchins are remarkably similar to humans in many ways, sharing most of the same gene families, and yet differ in a few critical areas besides the obvious physical ones.”
  • University of South Florida:  the EurekAlert announcement didn’t say as much about urchins and human relationships, but titled the release, “Insight into evolution of adaptive immunity boosted by sea urchin genome sequencing” and talked about the evolutionary split that led to us.
  • Brown University:  The press release from Brown University began, “Scientists have long known that humans and sea urchins are closely related.  In fact, these animals are the only invertebrates on the human branch of the evolutionary tree of life.  Now that the sea urchin genome is sequenced and assembled, that genetic connection is even clearer.”
  • Live Science:  “Surprise!  Your Cousin’s a Sea Urchin” chimed Jeanna Bryner at Live Science.  Her Darwin commercial was aired verbatim on other news sources, like MSNBC and Fox News.
  • National Geographic:  By now the refrain has become a sing-along: “Sea Urchin Genome Reveals Striking Similarities to Humans,” writes Stefan Lovgren and National Geographic News.
Mischievous little English boys in Dickens novels have been called urchins, but perhaps never before have so many associations been made in one day between the little purple ocean porcupines and human beings.
Have you seen many things in your life more absurd than the Darwin Party mass hypnosis attacks every time somebody hints that Emperor Charlie might have a new fig leaf for his costume?  They can’t validate common ancestry based on such things.  Didn’t we just learn that genes may be minor players in the genetic machinery that make humans and animals different? (11/09/2006).  Have they never considered there are other explanations, for similarities, like modular design?  Don’t they realize that finding an advanced immune system in a lowly sea creature represents a huge evolutionary conundrum?  What on earth are they thinking?  They’re not; for all intents and purposes, they’re divining (09/29/2006).  They are searching for the spirit of Charlie in molecules of DNA.  Supposedly this is an improvement on livers and entrails.
To claim an ancestral relationship in this genome, the Darwinists have to purposely ignore a horde of contrary evidence reported frequently in these pages (follow the Genetics and Evolution chain links for plenty of examples, e.g. 09/16/2006, 06/08/2006, 11/20/2005, 11/06/2005, and 08/20/2003).
    There are many problems in the sea urchin genome they are not telling you about.  For instance, scientists were startled to find some genes with drastic differences from vertebrates, and others almost perfectly conserved.  And regarding that amazing immune system, they found more immunity genes in the urchin than in the human by an order of magnitude.  Neither of these observations comport with the image of gradual evolution by natural selection.  Then there is the problem that such advanced genes are found in one of most primitive of the deuterostomes.  This pushes the problem of the origin of complexity further back into some mythical ancestor.
For now, just focus on the media’s strange behavior.  Reporters go bonkers in their euphoria at the Charlie Parades, because they have sold their souls to the dogma that Charlie must be worshiped no matter what the evidence, and defended against the new God in town at all costs.  This makes them chant all the louder, “Great is Darwina of the Evolutionists!’  It looks so silly.  It is so unbecoming reporters who are supposed to challenge claims and present all sides of a story.  Look at them.  Look how they brag on being related to tiny spiny denizens of tide pools lacking eyes, ears, and thinking brains.  They might as well be urchins.  They have a special place in their hearts for bottom dwellers.  We should shame the dickens out of such mischief.
Next headline on:  GeneticsDarwinismMarine BiologyDumb Ideas
Brain Compensates for Eye Movements   11/10/2006    
Your eyes are continually jumping in little movements called saccades, yet your brain interprets the view as a steady image.  How can that be?  Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh are on the track of finding out “why our shifty eyes don’t drive us crazy.”  They’ve discovered that the signal that sends a command to the eye to jump also sends a compensatory signal to the receiving neurons to shift accordingly.  The circuit is thus complete, and your mind is not even aware of the jumpy eyeballs.  Saccades keep the object of attention centered for high-acuity processing (11/24/2005) and also protect individual rods and cones from saturation (03/29/2002).
    That’s not all.  The scientists say the results of this study will “also provide a framework for studying corollary discharge in other sensory systems, such as hearing: Even when you move your head around, you still hear sounds around you as coming from the same place.”
Though the study was conducted on primates and humans, undoubtedly this is a widespread phenomenon in the animal kingdom.  It probably works similarly, for instance, in birds that bobble their heads as they walk, enabling them to get a smooth picture that maximizes static views during forward motion (see 04/12/2004).
    Studies like this remind us that the optical design of the eyeball, amazing as it is, is just part of a much vaster sensory network.  Vision would be useless without the cooperation of signals, neurons, software and muscles, blood, repair mechanisms, and linkages to all the other systems of the body.
    The eyeball gave Darwin cold shudders, but that was with his coat on.  Piece by piece, with each new revelation, his theory has had to shed its cloak of explanatory power.  There’s not much left.  That’s why he is resorting to hot air to try to keep warm (10/27/2006).
Next headline on:  Human BodyAmazing Facts
Junk Is the Essence of Mankind   11/09/2006    
Christians may proclaim “God don’t make no junk” but evolutionists boast of our junky heritage.  Erika Check wrote in Nature this week,1 “It’s the junk that makes us human.”  She was referring to non-coding DNA, long considered “junk DNA.”  There is growing awareness that these sections of unclear function are involved in the regulation of the coding genes.  She explains with a design analogy:
Anyone who has ever put together self-assembly furniture knows that having the right parts is important, but what you do with them can make or break the project.  The same seems to be true of the vast amounts of DNA in an organism’s genome that used to be labelled as junk.  Studies now indicate that this DNA may be responsible for the signals that were crucial for human evolution, directing the various components of our genome to work differently from the way they do in other organisms.
    The findings seem to bolster a 30-year-old hypothesis that gene regulation – not the creation of new genes – has moulded the traits that make us unique.
Of the human non-coding regions that differ the most from other animals, most lie near genes coding for brain cell function.  Figuring out what these regions do is a new treasure hunt for geneticists: one researcher said, “Here we have a way of discovering new biology.”  See also Michael Balter’s write-up on this topic in Science Now.
1Erika Check, “It’s the junk that makes us human,” Nature 444, 130-131 (9 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444130a; Published online 8 November 2006.
Report card: for finding a new promising path of research, A.  For finding it by accident, C.  For avoiding the discovery because of decades of calling it junk, F.  For saying “it’s the junk that makes us human,” go to the Principal.
Next headline on:  DarwinismEarly ManGeneticsDumb Ideas
Looking for answers to the latest missing-link claims?
Dolphin with Legs:  find responses at CMI and AIG.
Fish with Limbs:  look in CMI and 10/20/2006 here.

Moon Gas Indicates Recent Geologic Activity    11/09/2006  
It’s aliv-v-v-v-e!  Evidence for recent geological activity on our moon has been reported in Nature.1  Katharine Sanderson introduced the findings in News@Nature, in an item titled, “The moon has gas: Eruptions confound the idea that our nearest neighbour is a geological dead zone” –

Some think the Moon has been geologically dead for billions of years.  But Peter Schultz of Brown University, Rhode Island, is not one of them.  His results show that some lunar craters were formed as recently as 10 million years ago by gas eruptions, suggesting that there’s still something bubbling away beneath the Moon’s surface.
    In terms of lunar geology, 10 million years is yesterday.  It was thought that all volcanic activity stopped 3.2 billion years ago, and that any young craters were caused by meteor impacts.  Time to think again, say Schultz and his colleagues in this week’s Nature1.
Here is the abstract from the paper by Schults et al.1  It hints at a serious intellectual tension between the evidence for recent activity and the belief that this activity should have ceased billions of years ago:
Samples of material returned from the Moon have established that widespread lunar volcanism ceased about 3.2 Gyr ago.2  Crater statistics and degradation models indicate that last-gasp eruptions of thin basalt flows continued until less than 1.0 Gyr ago, but the Moon is now considered to be unaffected by internal processes today, other than weak tidally driven moonquakes and young fault systems.  It is therefore widely assumed that only impact craters have reshaped the lunar landscape over the past billion years.  Here we report that patches of the lunar regolith in the Ina structure were recently removed.  The preservation state of relief, the number of superimposed small craters, and the ’freshness’ (spectral maturity) of the regolith together indicate that features within this structure must be as young as 10 Myr, and perhaps are still forming today.  We propose that these features result from recent, episodic out-gassing from deep within the Moon.  Such out-gassing probably contributed to the radiogenic gases detected during past lunar missions.  Future monitoring (including Earth-based observations) should reveal the composition of the gas, yielding important clues to volatiles archived at great depth over the past 4-4.5 Gyr.
This tension continues in the body of the article.  “Both morphological and spectral criteria indicate that the exposed surfaces within Ina are exceedingly young,” the authors say.  “In fact, our observations do not preclude the possibility that it is still in the process of formation.”  The 10 Myr figure, clearly, was intended as an upper limit.
    Moreover, Ina is just one of four such features they identified.  Since these four trend along a rille around the Imbrium basin, “These occurrences in similar structural settings indicate that volatiles (for example, juvenile CO2 and even H2O) trapped deep within the Moon episodically escape along crustal weaknesses, thereby continually freshening the regolith.”
    Another clue that something very recent is going on comes from the identification of Polonium-210 alpha particles by the alpha particle spectrometer on Lunar Prospector.  These short-lived radioactive decay products (half-life = 138 days) “indicate radon release within the past 60 yr.
    If these features indicate recent geological activity, it could mean that at least some craters were formed by gas explosions, News@Nature explained.  It has long been assumed that all craters formed since the ancient volcanism stopped were from impacts.  Although these findings are “suggestive, rather than definitive,” the implications take lunar scientists back to square one, Sanderson concluded: 
Lunar scientists will now be forced to rethink assumptions made about the Moon.  “There is more to the Moon than we had previously discovered,” says Schultz.  “This shows there’s still some [geological] life.  We just have to learn how to take its pulse.”
See also popular reports on this story posted by National Geographic and Brown University.
1Schultz, Staid and Peters, “Lunar Activity from Recent Gas Release,” Nature 444, 184-186 (9 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05303.
2Gyr = billions (giga) of years; Myr = millions of years.
No sooner had we speculated that the Egyptian anomalous craters (11/01/2006) might have been endogenic, leading to new hypotheses about other solar system craters, than this report appears in Nature suggesting the same thing.  Imagine: some craters on the moon forming from the inside out, in recent times.  That is a startling change in thinking.  Undoubtedly many, if not most, are still impact craters (the authors did not consider secondaries; see 06/08/2006), but it’s hard to understate the surprise that geologists must feel finding something this young on a moon their minds have been trained to think as old, old, old.
    The authors, for sure, considered details that might distinguish the young features from the presumably old ones, and do not doubt the 4.5-Gyr accepted age.  (How could they and keep their jobs?)  But then they had to admit that the new findings are forcing lunar scientists to “rethink assumptions made about the Moon.”  It’s been almost heresy to consider the moon being geologically alive.  Only a few “last gasp” episodes from isolated craters like Aristarchus, location of numerous lunar transient phenomena sightings, have been considered as interesting but anomalous.  The moon was supposed to have cooled and quieted down three billion years ago.  You can almost sense the astonishment as they first talk glibly about billions of years, then 10 million, then 60 years, then Yikes, it might be even active today!
    Isn’t it just like secular scientists to sidestep the most serious implications of their discoveries?  At the end, the scientists focused on how this finding might help future astronauts understand what resources are available to exploit.  Come on; this is a story with big epistemological ramifications.  The lesson can be stated as a question you should train children to ask when they hear things about the unseen past taught as accepted fact: “How do you know that?”
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyDating Methods
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  It’s a Gas    11/08/2006  
This week’s entry by Sara Goudarzi in Live Science requires no comment.  The title of the article is, “Life’s Origin a Gas.”
Life on Earth emerged out of thin air, scientists now say.
    By mimicking in a lab the gases that could have been present on early Earth, researchers have concluded that a layer of haze blanketing our planet produced organic material that helped living organisms develop.
Sara went on to talk about how the atmosphere on Saturn’s moon Titan might have resembled that on the early Earth.  An organic haze layer could have existed for “a billion years while life was evolving,” she said, based on inspiration from a recent paper claiming that organic material could have rained down on the Earth like manna from heaven.  Despite the opening bravado, her article ended on a minor chord: “Scientists still do not know exactly what triggered the onset of biology, however.”
Life emerged out of thin air.  Wonderful.  That’s a gas, all right.  Laughing gas.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDumb Ideas
Bacterial Flagellum Multitasking and Assembly Described    11/08/2006  
Since the bacterial flagellum has become a de facto icon of the intelligent design movement, it’s instructive to see what new discoveries come to light on the molecular machine par excellence.  Two papers appeared recently.
  1. Ferry Boats:  A Cambridge team publishing in PNAS1 studied how the parts get to the assembly site.  The studied one of the many flagellum proteins, FliJ:
    We reveal that the essential export protein FliJ has a novel chaperone escort function in the pathway, specifically recruiting unladen chaperones for the minor filament-class subunits of the filament cap and hook-filament junction substructures....  The data show that FliJ recruits chaperones and transfers them to subunits, and indicate that this is driven by competition for a common binding site.  This escort mechanism provides a means by which free export chaperones can be cycled after subunit release, establishing a new facet of the secretion process.  As FliJ does not escort the chaperone for the major filament subunit, cycling may offer a mechanism for export selectivity and thus promote assembly of the junction and cap substructures required for initiation of flagellin polymerization.
  2. Slogan spin:  “Thanks to the new work of Murphy et al., we now have a view of the bacterial flagellum in situ and quick-frozen in time as if a flash bulb had stopped its action.”  David DeRosier wrote this in Current Biology2 in response to the paper mentioned here on 09/01/2006.  DeRosier included two of the stunning new 3D models of the intricacies of the rotor and stator.  Two other sample images can also be found at Caltech E&S (Volume LXIX, Number 3, 2006, p. 6), recently released for publication.
        DeRosier’s opening sentences confirm statements made in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life:
    The flagellum, with its complexity of structure and multiplicity of function, is a machine that boggles the mind.  While musing on possible phrases that might catch the reader’s attention, I was reminded of the memorable 1926 slogan for the Hoover vacuum cleaner: “It beats as it sweeps as it cleans.”  The flagellum self-assembles as it propels as it responds; that is, the flagellum not only pushes the cell along, it also responds to intracellular signals and it assembles itself.  It seems as amazing as the old Hoover did in its heyday.  But, I thought, the bacterial flagellum does not really ‘beat’; the eukaryotic flagellum, an entirely different machine, does that.  Instead, the prokaryotic flagellum spins, driven by a rotary motor at speeds of over 100,000 rpm in at least one species.  The torque generated by the motor is converted to thrust by the corkscrew-shaped filament or propeller (for a review see [4]).
        Of the 40 genes needed to code for a flagellum, at least 24 produce proteins found in the final structure....
    After describing the wonders of this machine, DeRosier once again found inspiration in commercials: “Let us end with another familiar slogan but this time applied to the tomograms of the flagellum: ‘It’s the real thing.’”

1Evans et al, “An escort mechanism for cycling of export chaperones during flagellum assembly,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0605197103, published online before print November 6, 2006.
2David DeRosier, “Dispatch: Bacterial Flagellum: Visualizing the Complete Machine In Situ,” Current Biology, Volume 16, Issue 21, 7 November 2006, Pages R928-R930, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.09.053.
3Y. Magariyama, S. Sugiyama, K. Muramoto, Y. Maekawa, I. Kawagishi, Y. Imae and S. Kudo, “Very fast flagellar rotation,” Nature 371 (1994), p. 752.
Finally we found a source corroborating the claim made in the film that some of these flagella can rotate at 100,000 rpm.  Most sources mention much lower (though still impressive) values of around 18,000 rpm.  DeRosier cites a case in the 102,000 rpm range; we will reproduce this source as footnote 3 above for those interested.3
    None of the three sources cited in the entry above mention evolution.  We have to keep saying that.  None of them, either, mentioned the fact that it is the intelligent design community that has brought these molecular machines to the attention of the public as examples of biological structures that defy Darwinian explanations.  They’d rather not touch that subject with a ten-foot propeller.
    They should, though.  The more young people watching Unlocking the Mystery of Life, the more might become interested in science.  The more scientists interested in these molecular machines, the more funding might become available.  This is another way ID can stimulate scientific research.  What’s Darwin got to do with it?  Nothing but spin doctoring.
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Unhappiness with Big Science: It’s Not Just Creationism Anymore    11/07/2006  
Feeling marginalized?  Unable to get a hearing?  Shunned by your peers?  Subject to attacks and ridicule?  Rejected by leading publications and the press, while your opponents get free rein for overhyped claims?  You may not be a politician or creationist.  You may be a scientist with views that differ from the consensus of Big Science.  Here are a couple of cases where the complaints of outsiders in other disputes sound very similar to those coming from the defenders of creation or intelligent design.
  1. Global Warming:  That the mainstream journals are convinced human-aggravated global warming is a fact no longer in need of proof, and that drastic measures must be taken to avoid catastrophe, needs no documentation.  Try to disagree with this diagnosis, however, and you may feel like Claude Allegre, a member of the French and US Academy of Sciences who jumped ship; see a press release from the U S Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works.  The release contains a list of other scientists who reject the consensus notion.  On Saturday, Mike Hulme, one of Britain’s top climate scientists, wrote for the BBC News how the rhetoric has, nonetheless, been intensifying in the media.  He showed instances of the hysteria being reported about a coming “catastrophe” that is coming due to “chaotic” “irreversible” and “rapid” human-caused changes that are putting the Earth at a “tipping point” or “point of no return.”  Hulme lamented, “I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric.”
        In a balancing act on this subject unusual for a newspaper, The Telegraph (UK) is giving prominent press to Christopher Monckton, a global warming critic, in a 2-part series.  Monckton, who once advised Margaret Thatcher on scientific claims and scares, disputes the famous “hockey stick” graph and the climate models that scared the UN and the UK into ominous responses.  The consensus is wrong, he argues, because it is built on bad science.  Monckton gives examples of how data were deliberately fudged or ignored to fit a preconceived result.  A 400-year medieval warming period, he asserts, was 3°C warmer than today’s rise; Vikings farmed areas in Greenland now under permafrost.  This well-documented warm period was deliberately censored, he alleges, to preserve the hocky-stick graph.  In addition, the model used to make the famous graph produces the same uptick at the end regardless of the data, even when random numbers are used.
        His bottom line is that “politicians, scientists and bureaucrats contrived a threat of Biblical floods, droughts, plagues, and extinctions worthier of St John the Divine than of science.”  The Telegraph preceded Monckton’s report with a caution that many would find it a “highly controversial polemic.”  But if he and the other climate-scare skeptics are right – or even partly right – it raises serious questions about how the Royal Society and other scientific institutions ostensibly devoted to scientific objectivity could arrive at hard-line, monolithic, politically-charged positions, such that skeptics must find other venues for the debate.  Cf. 12/27/2003 editorial, “Aliens Cause Global Warming.”
  2. String Theory:  “Teach the controversy!” shouted the title of a book review in Science (Oct. 27), borrowing a phrase from the intelligent design movement.  It’s not that Aaron Pierce believes string theory is The Truth that he criticized Lee Smolin’s new book The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next; it’s that Smolin was so stern in his criticism of the academy for embracing it.  “Smolin believes this represents an unprecedented breakdown in the marketplace of ideas: string theory is so entrenched in the academy that the result is a de facto conspiracy to suppress dissenting ideas.  To his mind, string theorists have too much at stake to make an unbiased assessment, and so it falls to unbiased outsiders like him to make the judgment for them.”  Pierce feels this is a “bold claim,” but is he, an insider reviewing a book unfavorably in an insider journal, the one to judge?  Smolin was not given space to respond.
Are the big scientific institutions in need of reform?  Has scientific “consensus” become an intellectual straitjacket instead of a protection against pseudoscience?  To what extent are funding policies tied to political fads?  How can unpopular views get a fair hearing?  That these questions are being asked in fields far removed from intelligent design or creationism may be symptoms of fundamental flaws in the way controversies are handled in the context of scientific institutions.
  CEH takes no position on global warming, since it is off-topic, but mentions the story above to show how others are finding out how closed and incorrigible the institutions of science can be, and how the media can hype a view beyond all reason.  Monckton points to documented instances of deliberate deception that were rationalized or ignored even after they were made public.  Can scientific institutions actually be guilty of such things?  Answer that question with another.  Are they made up of human beings?
    As for string theory, Pierce listened briefly to Smolin’s complaint that string theory is unfalsifiable and makes no predictions, but he did what the Darwiniacs do: he appealed to the best-in-field fallacy: string theory is “the most promising tool” physicists have, he claimed, and needs more time than impatient critics want to give it.  Let’s exchange “Darwinism” as the subject of the sentence and ask if 147 years is long enough.  Pierce may have invoked “teach the controversy” as the title of his article, but did not follow through.  He dismissed Smolin’s criticisms and rationalized the consensus staying in power.
    Speaking of predictions and falsifiability, did you know these are no guarantees of good science?  There is no agreement among philosophers of science about what constitutes valid science; there is no one “scientific method,” and there are no agreed-on demarcation criteria that can separate science from pseudoscience.  This has been well known for decades despite numerous attempts to solve the problem; no set of criteria are simultaneously necessary and sufficient to distinguish something as scientific.  The problems with empiricism and inductive logic go even further back, to David Hume and even to the ancient Greeks.
    For a detailed and mind-opening look at how complex these questions are, and how difficult it is to define “science” in a way that grants it epistemic privilege, get the new set of lectures on Philosophy of Science by Jeffrey L. Kasser (North Carolina State U) available from The Teaching Company.  Kasser will tie your head in knots with his witty and incisive debunking of the validity of some of our most intuitive notions about science, and even about our ability to observe and make sense of the world.
    Lest one dismiss these as Kasser’s own teasers, he cites the leading philosophers from Hume to the present.  He demonstrates how even simple problems like confirming the proposition “all copper conducts electricity” or “all ravens are black” continue to challenge the best thinkers of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Verification and validation of scientific claims are much more fraught with logical loopholes and doubts than most people realize.
    How, then, can the Darwinists presume to tell us what happened millions and billions of years ago?  Saying “most scientists accept” a notion is not enough.  And on what basis can scientific institutions censor views that are equally logical and empirically supported but go against the consensus?  The common notions about science still assumed to give its knowledge claims superiority, such as logical positivism, are highly suspect, if not defunct, in the view of nearly all philosophers of science.  Yet these are the notions routinely assumed and employed by the Darwin defenders in courtrooms, classrooms and the scientific journals.
Big Science (08/19/2003 commentary) has become a twin of Big Labor: a liberal (12/02/2004), money-hungry, monolithic political force with dubious relations to its founding principles and constituency, and even more dubious credibility.  Individual scientists, like individual laborers, often do honest work.  The party bosses, though, do not always represent them or their best interests.  Power breeds conformity.  The rank and file do what they must to stay out of trouble.  Now you have some insight into the ruling Darwin Party’s behavior toward intelligent design (see 10/27, 09/01/2006, 08/21/2006, 06/21/2006, 05/09/2006, 05/19/2005, etc).
    If you enjoyed this entry, you might also like to review the entries from 12/11/2005, “Does Big Science Know What Science Is?”, 01/19/2006, “Peer Review: Can You Trust a Scientific Journal Paper?”, and 03/17/2006, “Can Scientific Journals Perpetuate False Ideas?”
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You’ll Love Beetle-Foot Tape    11/06/2006  
If beetles can do it, scientists should be able to: climb the wall, that is.  Some researchers at Max Planck Institute have invented an adhesive that sticks to glass like beetle feet.  The secret was to manufacture thousands of microscopic pads that adhere to smooth surfaces by van der Waals forces (the attraction of neighboring atoms).  “Inspired by the soles of beetles’ feet, and therefore biomimetic, the special surface structure of the material allows it to stick to smooth walls without any adhesives.”  The press release tells how bugs and reptiles had it first:
It has been known for some time how insects, spiders and geckos have such a remarkable talent for walking on walls and ceilings. Extremely thin hairs literally stick their feet to the wall and the larger the animal, the finer the hairs.  Geckos, which are heavy compared to a fly, have been using nanotechnology for this purpose for millions of years ....  According to findings made by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, the shape of the fibres is also significant; for example, spatula-shaped ends on the hairs provide particularly strong adhesion.
How might beetle-foot or gecko-foot adhesives be used?  Reusable adhesive tape, soles for climbers’ boots (Spider-man?) come to mind.  What else?
Potential applications range from protective foil for delicate glasses to reusable adhesive fixtures – say goodbye to fridge magnets, here come the microhairs, which will also stick to your mirror, your cupboard and your windows.  For example, the new material will soon be found in industrial production processes in the manufacture of glass components.  It has already been shown to perform in higher weight categories: the artificial adhesive fibers on the soles of a 120 gram robot helped it to climb a vertical glass wall.
It was quite an engineering challenge to design the prototype, and the bugs are still being worked out (if Mr. Beetle Bailey will pardon the expression).  Their product, when it comes on the market, will be user-friendly: “It lasts for hundreds of applications, does not leave any visible marks and can be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water.”
You can just hear the commercials already.  What should they call this stuff?  It should beat out any TV ads for kaboom, vacuum cleaner robots and battery-free flashlights.  Put on your announcer voice and say, “Sticks to almost anything.  Leaves no marks and requires no messy cleanup.  Use it in the kitchen, the bathroom, the office.  Protect your eyeglasses and priceless photographs.  Leave yourself notes on the window.  Perfect for the artist or draftsman.  Usable anywhere – everywhere.  It’s amazing!   But wait!  Order now, and we’ll throw in this self-cleaning windshield, a $60 value, absolutely free!  You get a hundred-foot roll of GeckoTape, a whisker robot for the kids, and the self-cleaning windshield, all for just $39.99.  What are you waiting for?  Operators are standing by to take your call.  Call now!  1-800-THANK-ID.”
    So geckos have been using nanotechnology for millions of years, they say.  Was this by intelligent design?  No, it couldn’t have been.  It is so vastly superior to human engineering, it must have been made by blind, mindless processes of accidental chance.
Next headline on:  BiomimeticsTerrestrial ZoologyPhysicsAmazing Facts
NOMA Isn’t Working: Darwin Demands the Kingdom    11/05/2006  
The late evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould had an idea for resolving conflicts between science and religion.  He called it NOMA, for “non-overlapping magisteria.”  The basic idea was, let science take the natural world, and leave everything else – morals, ethics, the arts and humanities – to the theologians and philosophers.  In Gould’s words, “we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.”  The National Academy of Sciences, the NCSE and many other scientific organizations have adopted a similar peace treaty: science and theology are separate and distinct avenues to truth, and each controls their own territory.
    Either nobody took Gould’s proposal seriously, or it doesn’t work, because the science journals routinely invade subjects long reserved for other departments of the university.  Here are some recent examples of scientific writings that not only try to explain moral and intellectual matters in naturalistic, evolutionary terms, but either overtly state or merely assume that it is perfectly legitimate to do so.1
  1. Might makes right:  Gavrilets and Vose, writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Oct 30, published a mathematical model of “The dynamics of Machiavellian intelligence.”  That this study was intended to take philosophy captive to Darwin was clear by the ending sentence of the abstract, “Our model suggests that there may be a tendency toward a reduction in cognitive abilities (driven by the costs of having a large brain) as the reproductive advantage of having a large brain decreases and the exposure to memes increases in modern societies.”  A meme is a cultural item transmitted through generations.  Memes include concepts and ideas – i.e., even the category logos.  In a view first proposed by atheist Richard Dawkins, memes, like genes, are propagated by evolution and obey the law of natural selection: survival of the fittest.
  2. Charity begins in the lab:  Earlier in October, six neuroscientists from Brazil, Italy and Maryland writing in PNAS, decided that the “Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donations.”  They began, “Humans often sacrifice material benefits to endorse or to oppose societal causes based on moral beliefs.  Charitable donation behavior, which has been the target of recent experimental economics studies, is an outstanding contemporary manifestation of this ability.”  And how does this ability come about, seeing as this distinctively human trait is not observed in animals?  “We show that the mesolimbic reward system is engaged by donations in the same way as when monetary rewards are obtained,” they explained.
        But their statements were not about mere observations of brain waves as effects of true charitable decisions: the machinery was the decisions.  “Furthermore, medial orbitofrontal-subgenual and lateral orbitofrontal areas, which also play key roles in more primitive mechanisms of social attachment and aversion, specifically mediate decisions to donate or to oppose societal causes,” they claimed.  Are we, therefore, determined by material neuronal connections?  “Remarkably, more anterior sectors of the prefrontal cortex are distinctively recruited when altruistic choices prevail over selfish material interests.”  Charity is thus the output, not the input.  But, then, is it really charity?
  3. Monkey say, Darwin do:  Since theology and philosophy are expressed in human language, where did language come from?  From biology, obviously, think Ghazanfar and Miller in Current Biology.  In a Dispatch entitled, “Language Evolution: Loquacious Monkey Brains?” they sought “rigorous comparative investigations of the neural evolution of speech and language.”  One problem: “Determining the substrates required for the evolution of human speech and language is a difficult task as most traits thought to give rise to the unique aspects of human communication – the vocal production apparatus and the brain – do not fossilize.”  No problem: “Thus, we are only left with one robust method of inquiry: comparing our behavior and brain with those of other extant primates.”  The implication is clear: from monkey vocalizations to Maxwell’s equations, the evolutionary path is continuous.
  4. Atheism: preach it, journal:  Does a book on atheism, or religion at all, belong in a science journal?  Apparently Nature has no problem with that.  In the Oct. 26 issue, Lawrence M. Krauss gave a mostly favorable review to the rabidly anti-religious book by Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.  Krauss’s only objections pertained to style, suggesting Dawkins went a little overboard with his rhetoric.  As to the substance of the book, Krauss wrote, “With authority and wit, he [Dawkins] marvellously dissects the absurdity, hypocrisy and selectivity that is inherent in so much of modern biblical morality.  Perhaps there can be no higher praise than to say that I am certain I will remember and borrow many examples from this book in my own future discussions.”  Whether such discussions will be in Krauss’s cosmology classrooms at Case Western Reserve University, he did not say.  The large illustration in the book review shows a man wearing a sandwich board stating, in large capital letters, “Renounce God and Be Saved.”  Whose magisterium just got overlapped?
  5. Have faith in biology:  The next week in Nature (Nov 2), Kruger and Konner reviewed another book on religion – ironic in an issue with a prominent cover story on “Islam and Science” with nine articles about how to get the Muslim world to open up more to scientific progress.  The book is Minds and Gods: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion by Todd Tremlin, which “bravely attempts to discover the ‘natural cognitive foundations’ of religious thought and, more specifically, seeks a ‘complete, detailed explanation of the relation of heavenly gods and earthly minds’.”  No NOMA here, either.  The reviewers point out that “Religion is hardly uncharted scientific territory,” noting that Charles Darwin, William James and Sigmund Freud each explored natural foundations for religion.  See also the 10/02/2006 and 07/12/2006 entries.
  6. Work out your own evolution, for it is Darwin who is at work in you:  In the same issue of Nature, David Quellar explored the biological roots of work, cooperation and altruism.  He summarized it, “underlying affinities for kin emerge when coercion is removed: kin selection is what turns suppressed individuals into altruists.”  This explains honeybees as well as Shakespeare’s characters in Hamlet, Quellar is convinced.  The transition is seamless.  After discussing bee behavior, he said, “Many social conflicts create winners and losers.  But only kinship allows evolution to make creative use of the social losers, turning them into reproductive police, exquisite communicators and heroic defenders.”  What heroes does he have in mind?  “When Hamlet suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, he debated putting an end to himself.”  No different at all: “The stinging honeybee worker commits suicide when her sting is torn out, but this saves her kin.”  Makes perfect sense; Hamlet was acting out the behaviors programmed into humanity by evolution.  Question is, who is the person acting, Hamlet or evolution?
  7. Think on these neurons:  Jumping over to the other mainstream journal Science, on Oct 13 Elizabeth Pennisi connected the dots between the synapses in a slug and the cognitive complexity of a human mind – all via evolution.  “Over evolutionary time, the protein portfolio of the receiving side of the synapse has become more sophisticated--could that be why brains got bigger and smarter?”  If the answer is yes, though, how would she know it?  On what epistemological basis could she make the claim?  That question was not on the agenda of the scientific magisterium, apparently.
  8. Vote for determinism:  Moving along to the Oct. 20 issue of Science, we find Michael Goldman giving a mixed review to Lee M. Silver’s new book, The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life.  While finding Silver’s bravado and radical futurism distasteful, he nevertheless agreed with the premise of this staunchly anti-religious book:
    Many scientists are afraid to ask what differentiates humans from all other animal species.  The Christian view is still heavily influenced by the idea that the human spirit remains beyond scientific inquiry.  In Silver’s view, the major emphasis of human genome analyses in the Western world has been to enhance health, but some investigators ... have been asking how we differ genetically from chimpanzees.  Silver thinks that one day the difference will boil down to a few dozen genes, a kind of “soul code.”
    Why, someday we may even “transfer those very genes into a nonhuman primate... to imbue a chimp with a human soul.”  In the final analysis, Goldman gave the hi-ho to Silver: the book “provides a good injection of the rationalist view into one of the most important debates of our time,” he ended, thinking of public attitudes toward ethically controversial biomedical research.  “And Silver does so in a way that should be equally accessible and enjoyable to the general reader and the professional scientist, ethicist, or theologian.”  Presumably, the theologian is only allowed on the receiving end of this “scientific” idea.  See also the 07/07/2006 entry.
  9. Download your upgrade:  Speaking of futurism, the BBC News had an article about the ideas of Ray Kurzweil and other visionaries who see robots and humans battling it out in the last days.  If we are biological machines, and robots are artificial machines, then there is no deux ex machina.  Taking evolution into our own hands, we machines can make machines that will also evolve.  The next upgrade might be Humans 2.0, computer-enhanced people.  (This is not to be seen as intelligent design, but as a new stage of evolution.)
        The downside is that our robot creations might one day supersede us, and view us as pests, like we view mosquitos.  They could decide to wipe us out.  After all, evolutionary theory expects they will eventually “evolve their own intelligence,” and will become so powerful, they will appear “almost God-like” – almost, of course, but not quite (since gods do not exist).  But whatever they do to us, practicing genocide or altruism, it will only be a manifestation of the central evolutionary law of nature: survival of the fittest.
  10. Dig these moral roots:  Bloom and Jarudi, writing in Nature Oct 26, decided that morality is the “product of an innate mental faculty – rather like language.”  They got this from reading a new book by Marc Hauser whose title tells all, Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong.  An illustration for the book review shows a signpost with arrows toward right, wrong, duty, corrupt, forbidden and good with roots in the soil of natural biology.
        The New York Times reviewed the book, calling this “An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong.”  Nicholas Wade gave it a good review with only minor reservations.  He was not quite sure Hauser’s proposal of “innate moral grammar” à la Chomsky is plausible, but he seemed apparently satisfied that the place to look for an explanation of morality is not in church or the philosophy department, but in evolutionary biology.
Anika Smith on Evolution News used this last article as Exhibit A of the charge that NOMA has been officially discarded, at least by the New York Times: “it seems that more and more Darwinists are rejecting the NOMA facts-values dichotomy for reasons as old as Darwin’s theory.”
    One final example.  The cover story of Sky and Telescope for December is: “Where did our universe come from?”  Any theologian hoping for a chance at the microphone will wait in vain.  From ultimate origins to ultimate destinies, only materialists and evolutionists need apply.  Author Anthony Aguirre said at one point, “The idea of creating an entire universe out of nothing sounds absurd....” but then proceeded to explain how from certain “surprising truths” in quantum physics, that is exactly what happened.
1Rather than detail each paper’s source, we are providing links to the abstracts to save space.
OK, pastors and teachers, now do you see why this issue is important?  The Darwin Party has aggrandized itself, and arrogated to itself the right to decide what constitutes knowledge on every subject, from alpha to omega.  All of reality must be expressed on its terms.  You have no voice, no objection, no dissent, no credibility, and no platform – nothing but the disappearing grin of the Cheshire cat.
    Even if you try to reason with these people, to point out how their view refutes itself by undermining its own epistemology, you will be shouted down (10/27/2006, 04/21/2006, 03/14/2006).  They will claim you are talking “religion” (meaning, mythology) while they are talking “science” (meaning, Truth).  Unless you talk in Darwinistic terms, you are disqualified from making any claims to knowledge.  Out of their altruistic hearts, they will grant you the freedom to believe myths, if you must (in your own prison cells, called churches), but you must not have access to public education or government policy.
    It’s time to recall a short fable we told awhile back that puts this situation in perspective.  The epistemological war was lost in the 19th century, when theologians, even the great Spurgeon, capitulated to what the Darwin Party was saying, and decided it didn’t matter what they claimed about biology and prehistory, because the church’s only concern was to save souls.  Here’s the fable that illustrates what discerning thinkers should have known was coming.
ACT I.
Two boys, Joe and Moe, were fighting over who controlled the game, so Joe finally proposed,
“Tell you what, Moe.  Give me the guns, and you can have all the toys.”
“Wow, you mean it?  I get all the toys?  Zoweeeee!” Moe exclaimed at this incredible deal.  “You can have your guns.  I get all the toys, I get all the toys,” he sang out like a lottery winner.
ACT II.
Moe felt a gun to his head.  The winning strategist demanded, “Hand over the toys.”
    So we offer the theologians and philosophers Act III, with the forgotten secret that comes out in the nick of time and puts them on the winning side of the denouement.  If you have been reading Creation-Evolution Headlines for long, we have been showing you, over and over, that the Darwinists only have fake guns loaded with blanks (09/07/2006, 08/30/2006).  Their philosophy of science is so shallow, it has about as much firepower as bubble gum.  Stop cowering, then.  Stand up to them and let them fire all they want.  Let them cry, “bang, bang, you’re dead!” till they are blue in the face.  And they will be blue in the face, because their view is self-refuting; if morality and intelligence are products of evolution, and if our ideas and values are determined by our genes and memes, then the Darwinists have no way of knowing anything – even that evolution is true!  Push on their weapons, and they will backfire and blow smoke in their faces, making them run off like scalded dogs.
    One other thing.  Let’s stop playing with toys.  There are more important things to do with our minds than deal in religious platitudes, when the intellectual war of the words is at fever pitch.  The battle calls for real men with chests and souls, who can stand up to bullies and exercise intellectual and moral leadership.  NOMA has been a bad deal.  We see now that is was a ruse for the usurpers (09/252006).  It’s time to liberate the masses of people enslaved to a deadly world view (08/31/2006, 08/23/2006) since Darwin stole epistemology from its rightful owners (02/18/2006).  Hopefully we have learned a painful lesson; secure the intellectual guns first, and the joys will come with the territory.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryBible and Theology
The Demise of the Neanderthal Species Concept    11/03/2006  
Can you call a population a separate species when it shares its distinctive characteristics with another species, and interbreeds readily?  A team of Romanian paleontologists, publishing in PNAS Nov. 3,1 re-evaluated some “poorly dated and largely ignored” skeletons of early modern human bones found in the Pestera Muierii region that, since 1952, had “never been integrated into paleoanthropology.”  They redated them to more than “28,000 radiocarbon years before present,” making them pertinent to the time period when modern humans were said to be invading Europe.  The researchers recognized that, taken together, the skeletons share diagnostic Neanderthal traits in a “mosaic” pattern.  This calls into question the long-held belief that Neanderthals were a separate, more “archaic” species of Homo that was supplanted by the arrival in Europe of modern humans.  Indeed, to these researchers, that position is no longer tenable:
Yet, as with many of these other early Upper Paleolithic modern Europeans, the Muierii fossils exhibit a number of archaic and/or Neandertal features, when taken in the context of Late Pleistocene Europe and potential ancestral populations.  These include the large interorbital breadth, the relatively flat frontal arc, the prominent occipital bun, the mandibular notch shape and coronoid height, the relative notch crest to condylar position, and the scapular glenoid breadth.  These data reinforce the mosaic nature of these early modern Europeans and the complex dynamics of human reproductive patterns when modern humans dispersed westward across Europe.  Strict population replacement of the Neandertals is no longer tenable.
    The early Upper Paleolithic human remains from the Pestera Muierii provide a further window on the biology and behavior of the earliest modern humans in Europe.  The cranial and postcranial remains provide a morphological mosaic indicating the prior blending of regional late archaic human populations with those of in-dispersing modern humans.  The behavioral contrasts between the groups must therefore have been modest, and this inference is reinforced by the functional implications of the Muierii 1 scapula.
See also National Geographic News and Live Science.  They are more tentative, stating that the two groups “might” have interbred.  The authors of the paper are more confident that they, in fact, did.
Update 11/09/2006: CNN and Science Now are reporting not only that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred, but that our gene for a bigger brain came from Neanderthals.  The CNN article has a picture of a Neanderthal in the pose of The Thinker (and with a Bowflex Body).
Update 11/24/2006: A large section of the Neanderthal genome was published in Science 11/15, and the surprising result is that it appears to be 99.5% identical to modern human (see Live Science for summary).  That, along with a Nature announcement that modern human individual gene copy numbers can vary by as much as 12% between one another (see 11/24/2006) seems to clinch the argument that Neanderthal Man was not a separate species, but well within the range of human variation.  Marvin Lubenow discussed the situation from a creationist viewpoint for Answers in Genesis.
1Soficaru, Trinkaus et al, “Early modern humans from the Pestera Muierii, Baia de Fier, Romania,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0608443103, published online before print November 3, 2006.
Is this latest update implying modern humans are the degenerates, and Neanderthalers were the supermen?  My, how perceptions change.  Next we will find out they were also morally superior and better philosophers.
    Neanderthal Man is dead, as a concept.  This find seems to nail the coffin.  If these humans interbred freely with moderns, and overlapped with them, then they were the same species as us.  It would be like finding two modern people groups with peculiar skeletal features at the extremes, that nevertheless interbreed and mix at the borders.  In other words, if they lived at the same time and produced fertile offspring, and “saw each other as socially appropriate mates” as Erik Trinkaus (Washington U) put it, what sense does it make to separate them into two species?  There was no Homo neanderthalensis, only Homo sapiens.  OK, now that we know this, let’s undo the damage caused by the Myth of Neanderthal Man.
    For over a century, these brethren of ours have been portrayed as subhuman by the racist Darwin Party storytellers.  Though this view had been tempered somewhat in the last few decades, Neanderthals were still depicted as two steps back from us in books like F. Clark Howell’s Time-Life book Early Man that gave iconic status to the ape-to-man illustration (like this).  Neanderthals were thought to be upright muscular hunters, but too stupid for language and art.  Do you see the propagandistic danger of visualization?  There never was a progressive sequence.  Each member of this hypothetical chart was either an extinct ape or full human being; only Darwinian imagination based on the Victorian myth of progress thought otherwise.  Neanderthal Man should have been placed beside modern man, not behind him in the parade.  Anything else reeks of the European superiority complex over aborigines.
    Funny, the news media that over-hype every early man story don’t show much remorse over this revelation.  National Geographic, will there be a retraction?  Did you also read Marvin Lubenow’s response to your Baby Lucy cover yet? (10/22/2006).  Where is the red on your face?  Mark Twain said, “Man is the only animal that blushes.  Or needs to.”  Live Science described what we should be seeing: “Blush biology works like this: Veins in the face dilate, causing more blood to flow into your cheeks, thus the rosy color.  But scientists are stumped as to why it happens or what function it serves.  That is, besides deflating your ego.”  Sadly, some people don’t know how to blush, said Jeremiah.  The solution is to replace one’s hardened ego with a more pliable one that can adjust to pressure.  Hardened shells tend to explode.
Next headline on:  FossilsEarly Man
Former Top Atheist Unveils His Reasons for Believing in a Creator   11/02/2006    
Antony Flew, formerly an influential atheist, was interviewed by Lee Strobel recently.  Flew explained why he became convinced of the existence of a Creator.  An article and video clip of the interview is available on the Lee Strobel website.
Notice how it was the scientific evidence that convinced Flew to consider the possibility of a Creator, and how once that hurdle was overcome, he became open to consider the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and other things that were off limits by definition in his earlier belief system.  It took courage for this man to face the evidence that contradicted his long-held views.  Though not ready to become a Christian, Flew finds the character of Jesus Christ admirable, but Mohammed and Islam contemptible.
    Speaking of Mohammed, “Islam and Science” was the cover story of Nature this week.  The editors and reporters attempted to give a positive portrayal of Islamic beliefs as conducive to science, though were concerned over how current political regimes suppress it.  You will search in vain for the word “terror” in any of the nine articles, except for one non-judgmental reference and another that puts the blame on the Americans for fomenting it.  (We’ll leave it to your imagination what words would be applied to “Christianity and Science” by the editors of Nature.)  Would that Antony Flew pay them a friendly visit.
Next headline on:  Bible and TheologyIntelligent Design
Strange Exploding Star Continues to Puzzle Astronomers    11/01/2006  
The Hubble took another image of the expanding shell of star V838 Monocerotis (see ESA and Hubblesite).  Four years after the first dramatic sequence (see 05/29/2003), astronomers are still puzzled by this star, with the most dramatic light echo ever photographed.  Leading hypothesis now is that two stars collided before the outburst.  The image made Astronomy Picture of the Day for Nov 3.
    The new Hubble image made the Oct. 14 cover of Science News.1  Ron Cowen wrote that astronomers have never seen anything like it and are “stumped by its behavior.”  It rapidly brightened and dimmed and swelled up to a gargantuan size as big as the orbit of Saturn.  It grew 30 times brighter in a single day a month after the explosion was witnessed in 2002, and grew 500 times its original width in a month.  Then its temperature rapidly dropped from 6000K to 2000K.  It’s unlike a classical nova; it may be a prototype for a new class of star.  Did a “hot Jupiter” planet fall into it?  Did two stars collide?  Researchers are toying with various theories.  “In the meantime,” Cowen ended, “astronomers have some beautiful pictures adorning their walls—and an intriguing stellar mystery.”
    The Hubble also took a dramatic picture of a supernova remnant, Cassiopeia A, in August; see EurekAlert and Hubblesite.  The outward-expanding shell is still moving at 30 million kilometers per hour, 340 years after the explosion around 1667.  It may have been seen by John Flamsteed, Astronomer Royal in Britain.
  Speaking of anomalies, in late September, another “weird” supernova was described by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, reported EurekAlert.  The fact that its mass is well over the Chandrasekhar Limit of 1.4 solar masses for supernovae, according to well-established theory, “opens up a Pandora’s box” for inferring distances to remote galaxies and the presence of dark matter.  Though it may be possible to distinguish these “super-Chandrasekhar-mass” cases from regular Type 1a supernovae by their spectra, it’s not easy to do.  Dark energy studies and cosmological distance probes have been made on the basis that Type 1a supernovae were all the same, providing “standard candles” for measurement.
1Ron Cowen, “Enigmatic eruption: the strange case of V838 Monocerotis,” Science News, Week of Oct. 14, 2006; Vol. 170, No. 16, p. 248.
Supernovae were thought to be standard candles, till they were found to fall into two classes dubbed Type I and II.  Then Type 1 supernovae were the standard candles, till varieties were found, named 1a, 1b, and 1c.  Now Type 1a supernovas include some fast-rotating types with masses above the Chandrasekhar Limit.  Then there are some Type II’s that can switch types, says Wikipedia.  The universe keeps throwing curve balls at simplistic theories.  This is something to tuck away in your back pocket when reading confident claims about the universe.
    The pictures from Hubble, as usual, are really striking – almost unreal.  One of the legacies of the Hubble Space Telescope has been its portrayal of astronomical objects as dynamic environments, where dramatic processes are at work.  The stars will never again look like static, twinkling, changeless ornaments in the sky.  V838 is a dramatic example of how quickly things can change in the celestial realm.  Sorry, Aristotle.
Next headline on:  StarsPhysicsCosmology
Intestinal Efficiency Praised    11/01/2006  
Leave it to a science website to answer those questions one would never ask out loud, or might not really care to know, like “why are feces brown?”  One line jumps out of an explanation at Live Science that is no joke: “Feces are fascinating.  Flush down your initial grade-school scatological silliness and you’ll discover a world of energy efficiency and unparalleled waste management.  If machines, industries and nations ran as well as your stomach, intestines and colon, we could say goodbye to a lot of landfills.”  Writer Ben Mauk continued, “The complex digestion process ensures that almost no useful energy goes unused.
Maybe our industrial waste management engineers and efficiency experts should learn something from the processes inside.  We live like kings in our own castles, served by highly-trained and efficient servants.  Something to think about on the throne today.
Next headline on:  Human Body
Geologists Puzzle Over Egyptian Craters    11/01/2006  
A set of craters deep in the Egyptian desert has geologists scratching their heads.  Discovery Channel News says that they look neither like impact craters nor known volcanic phenomena.  “It is a strange and new thing,” reported one French scientist.  Jay Melosh of the University of Arizona remarked, “There’s nothing in our current geological literature that describes them.  It would be most valuable to try to figure it out.”
    The impact of these craters may reach beyond the Earth.  If some unknown process caused these structures, planetary scientists may have to reconsider the origin of at least some surface features on other worlds:
Besides explaining the Gilf Kebir region, the information might prove useful elsewhere on Earth and beyond.  Mars, for instance, was once rich in both water and volcanism, and today the planet has plenty of cratered-looking land, Melosh explained.  Perhaps some of those famous pockmarks are not impact craters either.
The article has land-based and satellite pictures of some of the craters.  There are some 1,300 of them.
Wouldn’t it be something if the explanation turns out to involve a non-impact process, like a new method for internal heat to escape from the interior, unlike classical volcanic or hydrothermal processes?  In Death Valley, for instance, the Ubehebe Crater and neighboring bowl-shaped features were thought to have been formed by steam explosions.  What if planets or moons had global episodes that, like acne outbreaks or bubbling oatmeal, produced vast numbers of circular features simultaneously?  If that sounds bizarre, it can’t be much more unexpected than finding geysers on Enceladus (11/28/2005) and Mars (08/17/2006).  For decades, scientists have merely assumed that most round, rimmed craters in the solar system were caused by impacts.  Undoubtedly, many were formed that way.  Features such as crater rays, ejecta blankets and central peaks may prove diagnostic of impacts, if other processes are incapable of mimicking these effects.
    Remember that scientists have never witnessed a large impact crater being formed (the impacts on Jupiter in 1994 don’t count, because that was not a solid surface).  Meteor expert Gene Shoemaker used to shoot bullets at rocks to study impact effects, but whether his experiments on small scales can be extrapolated to all scales is an assumption, not an observation.  Even if impacts are the primary cause, they might not be the only cause.  The possibility that some Martian and lunar craters may have formed internally, combined with the revelation that secondary cratering is common, (06/08/2006) could have major ramifications on our theories about planetary surfaces – and how old they are.  Here we see structures right on our home planet that don’t fit any of the standard geological explanations.  Puzzles are good for science.  This should be an interesting case to follow.
Next headline on:  GeologySolar SystemDating Methods


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“I’ve told many people about your site.  It’s a tremendous service to science news junkies – not to mention students of both Christianity and Science.  Kudos!”
(a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)

“...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I’ve been an avid reader of it since I first ‘discovered’ your website about five years ago.  May I also express my admiration for the speed with which your articles appear—often within 24 hours of a particular news announcement or journal article being published.”
(a plant physiologist and prominent creation writer in Australia)

“How do you guys do it--reviewing so much relevant material every day and writing incisive, thoughtful analyses?!”
(a retired high school biology teacher in New Jersey)

“Your site is one of the best out there!  I really love reading your articles on creation evolution headlines and visit this section almost daily.”
(a webmaster in the Netherlands)

“Keep it up!  I’ve been hitting your site daily (or more...).  I sure hope you get a mountain of encouraging email, you deserve it.”
(a small business owner in Oregon)

“Great work!  May your tribe increase!!!”
(a former Marxist, now ID speaker in Brazil)

“You are the best.  Thank you.  Congratulations for the 6th Anniversary.  The work you do is very important.  Please don’t ever give up.  God bless the whole team.”
(an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)

“I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do, ’cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia is... I use crev.info for all my signatures on Internet forums etc., it really is fantastic site, the best site!  You see, we(your pleased readers) exist all over the world, so you must be doing great work!  Well i hope you have understand my bad english.”
(a biology student in Slovenia)

“Thanks for your time, effort, expertise, and humor.  As a public school biology teacher I peruse your site constantly for new information that will challenge evolutionary belief and share much of what I learn with my students.  Your site is pounding a huge dent in evolution’s supposed solid exterior.  Keep it up.”
(a biology teacher in the eastern USA)

“Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.  For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites.  I many times check your website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
    I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor, and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding.  Your ability to cut through the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that is a valuable asset....
    I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide coverage of the issues.  You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.  It is apparent in ever so many ways.
    Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
    Through the years, I have directed many to your site.  For their sake and mine, I hope you will be able to continue providing this very important, very much needed, educational, humorous, thought provoking work.”
(an engineer in Missouri)

“I am so glad I found your site.  I love reading short blurbs about recent discoveries, etc, and your commentary often highlights that the discovery can be ‘interpreted’ in two differing ways, and usually with the pro-God/Design viewpoint making more sense.  It’s such a refreshing difference from the usual media spin.  Often you’ll have a story up along with comment before the masses even know about the story yet.”
(a system administrator in Texas, who calls CEH the “UnSpin Zone”)

“You are indeed the ‘Rush Limbaugh’ Truth Detector of science falsely so-called.  Keep up the excellent work.”
(a safety director in Michigan)

“Just wanted to drop you a line to congratulate you on the 6th anniversary of Creation-Evolution headlines, and to thank you once again for the laborious but necessary work that you do.  I know of no better way to stay informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.  Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!”
(a grad student in particle physics)

“I thank you for your ministry.  May God bless you!  You are doing great job effectively exposing pagan lie of evolution.  Among all known to me creation ministries [well-known organizations listed] Creationsafaris stands unique thanks to qualitative survey and analysis of scientific publications and news.  I became permanent reader ever since discovered your site half a year ago.  Moreover your ministry is effective tool for intensive and deep education for cristians.”
(a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach countries across the former Soviet Union)

“The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable.  The objectivity of the editors is admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists.  The amount of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I can’t wait to see the next new article each time I log on).  Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary goal of the people who run this website.  Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent dedication to the TRUTH.”
(11 months earlier): “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 medical doctor in Oklahoma)

“Thanks for the showing courage in marching against a popular unproven unscientific belief system.  I don’t think I missed 1 article in the past couple of years.”
(a manufacturing engineer in Australia)

“I do not know and cannot imagine how much time you must spend to read, research and compile your analysis of current findings in almost every area of science.  But I do know I thank you for it.”
(a practice administrator in Maryland)

“Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, I’ve visited your site daily.... You so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! .... To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.”
(an investment advisor in Missouri)

“I really like your articles.  You do a fabulous job of cutting through the double-talk and exposing the real issues.  Thank you for your hard work and diligence.”
(an engineer in Texas)

“I love your site.  Found it about maybe two years ago and I read it every day.  I love the closing comments in green.  You have a real knack for exposing the toothless claims of the evolutionists.  Your comments are very helpful for many us who don’t know enough to respond to their claims.  Thanks for your good work and keep it up.”
(a missionary in Japan)

“Congratulations on the 6th anniversary!  I just thought I’d write and tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary.  It’s inspired a lot of thought and consideration.  I check your listings every day!”
(a computer programmer in Tulsa)

“Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational resource ... plus congratulations on your 6th anniversary, I wish you many more years of successful ’Net publishing.“
(director of a consulting company in Australia)

“Your insights ... been some of the most helpful – not surprising considering the caliber of your most-excellent website!  I’m serious, ..., your website has to be the best creation website out there....”
(a biologist and science writer in southern California)

“I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is consulted daily for the latest.  I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate, illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.  The archival structure is marvelous....  Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it should be.  Best regards for your continuing work and influence.  Lives are being changed and sustained every day.”
(a manufacturing quality engineer in Mississippi)

“I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines, as well as your Creation Safaris site.  I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day, and that is still true!  My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is still at the top of my list!  I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the scientific journals out there; which I don’t have the time to read myself.  Your commentary is very, very much appreciated.”
(a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)

“...just wanted to say how much I admire your site and your writing.  You’re very insightful and have quite a broad range of knowledge.  Anyway, just wanted to say that I am a big fan!”
(a PhD biochemist at a major university)

“I love your site and syndicate your content on my church website.... The stories you highlight show the irrelevancy of evolutionary theory and that evolutionists have perpetual ‘foot and mouth’ disease; doing a great job of discrediting themselves.  Keep up the good work.”
(a database administrator and CEH “junkie” in California)

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your website—it’s a HUGE asset!”
(a lawyer in Washington)

“Really, really, really a fantastic site.  Your wit makes a razor appear dull!... A million thanks for your site.”
(a small business owner in Oregon “and father of children who love your site too.”)

“Thank God for ... Creation Evolution Headlines.  This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the deceived mindset of naturalism.  The arguments presented are unassailable (all articles having first been thoroughly ‘baloney detected’) and the narrative always lands just on the right side of the layman’s comprehension limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who have never thought to question the ‘fact’ of evolution.”
(a business owner in Somerset, UK)

“I continue to note the difference between the dismal derogations of the darwinite devotees, opposed to the openness and humor of rigorous, follow-the-evidence scientists on the Truth side.  Keep up the great work.”
(a math/science teacher with M.A. in anthropology)

“Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!  I hope a book is in the works!”
(a biology prof in Ohio)

“I have enjoyed reading the sardonic apologetics on the Creation/Evolution Headlines section of your web site.  Keep up the good work!”
(an IT business owner in California)

“Your commentaries ... are always delightful.”
(president of a Canadian creation group)

“I’m pleased to see... your amazing work on the ‘Headlines’.”
(secretary of a creation society in the UK)

“We appreciate all you do at crev.info.”
(a publisher of creation and ID materials)

“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 don’t know.  But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God.... To deny evolution is to deny God’s 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, I’ve found that many of them do not stay current with relative information.  I love the almost daily updates to your ‘headlines’ section.  I’ve 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 can’t wait for the next update.  That’s 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.  I’ll 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)

“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 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 we’ve 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 clear thinking!
(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 that’s been going on. Now, I’m 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 they’ve 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)

“I’m a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming.  We’re pretty isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine.  I read it daily, and if there’s nothing new, I re-read everything.  I follow links.  I read the Scientist of the Month.  It’s the best site I’ve 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 life’s education has been a lie!!!’  I’ve 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...I’ve 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, I’ve found it.  2. You have balanced fun with this topic.  This is hugely valuable!  Smug Christianity is ugly, and I don’t 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.  That’s 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 science.’”
(a project manager in New Jersey)

“I’ve 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 system 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 you’re 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.  It’s incredible – I don’t know how you do it.  I can’t 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 Darwin’s 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 07/10/2005 commentary)

“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 can’t stop reading it....  I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story.  If the evolutionists’ blindness wasn’t 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, I’m 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 don’t you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?... Your website is a sham.”
(a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003 entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary.  This led to a cordial interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy, and resulted in an impasse over definitions – but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.  He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution.  He just claimed evolution is a fact.)

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

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

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

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

“Hey Friends, Check out this site: 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 daily—archives go back five years.”
(a reader who found us in Georgia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him 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 informative.”
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Featured Creation Scientist for November

William of Ockham
1285 - 1347

The man who gave us “Occam’s Razor” was a Catholic scholar very learned in the natural sciences.  He was famous for many things besides the oft-used principle of parsimony named after him, roughly stated as, “Don’t multiply complex causes to explain things when a simple one will do.”
    William of Ockham’s life story debunks the common myth that medieval scholars did little except argue about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.  He also illustrates how a Christian conception of God and nature promoted science.  Scholastic philosophers, furthermore, were not enslaved to Aristotle; lively debates often caused deep divisions between them.  William’s views led to his excommunication from the church.
    Ockham contributed to science by grounding his philosophy in the doctrine of creation.  He was a lively and articulate debater, expressing complex arguments about Divine action, grace, justification and other theological issues equally well with arguments over the fine points of Aristotelian philosophy, about which he disagreed with many of his contemporaries.  He denied, for instance, that Platonic forms were real (nominalism), a point some feel contributed to modern views of epistemology.
    His largest contribution to modern science was probably his famous maxim of ontological parsimony.  This is stated in various forms; one example is, “one should always opt for an explanation in terms of the fewest possible number of causes, factors, or variables.”  This “razor” has frequently cut through needless explanatory confusion and has proved fruitful in helping scientists arrive at elegant, simple explanations for natural phenomena.  This was certainly not his only contribution to Western thought.  He left behind books on natural philosophy, logic, politics and theology.
    William had complete confidence in the doctrine of creation and accepted God’s Revelation as the only reliable source of knowledge about existence, God, and immortality.  “For nothing ought to be posited without a reason given,” he said, “unless it is self-evident (literally, known through itself) or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.”
    William of Ockham lived near London and attended Oxford University.  Due to charges of heresy from the envy of a rival, Ockham was called before the Pope while the papacy was in Avignon, France (the “Babylonian Captivity”)  A Franciscan, he differed with the Pope on the issue of apostolic poverty.  Fearing imprisonment and execution, he and other sympathizers fled to the Holy Roman Empire in 1328, after which he was excommunicated (though his doctrines were never officially condemned).  He remained there 20 years, writing and leading a band of dissidents.  His experience with the Church probably contributed to his views on separation of church and state.  He probably perished in the Black Death that swept through Europe in 1348.


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

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from Paul

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

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

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

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

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

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

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

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