Creation-Evolution Headlines
February 2007
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“Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance.  Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance.”
—Bertrand Russell
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3 Out of 5 Doctors – Leaves 2   02/28/2007    
Every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded that yesterday’s nutritional advice can be wrong.  We need to beware of simplistic approaches to health.  For instance, the cliches “If a little is good, more is better” or “it worked for me” can be deadly.  TV commercials are filled with glowing promises for this or that pill, followed by rapid-talking disclaimers.  Live Science warned of two principles that contradict conventional wisdom: (1) Some antioxidant supplements may increase the risk of death (see also Science Daily about overdosing on vitamins A and E).  (2) Iron can make you strong or kill you (ironic, isn’t it?).  But then there is a third announcement from Nottingham University that most people will be glad to learn: chocolate is healthy.  We hope the bad news is not another cliche: “less is more.”
    Incidentally, speaking of health and human physiology, PNAS reported earlier in the month that your forearm skin is literally a zoo crawling with bacteria, many kinds unknown to science (see also Science Daily).  If you’re feeling OK, though, just don’t think about it and everything will be fine.

Human physiology is so very complex, we cannot know for sure the truisms in which we trust will not be overturned by tomorrow’s findings.  Complicating the picture are the influences of genetics, age, sex, geography, weather, time of day, time of year, ecology and psychosomatic effects.  Even prayer can render all the above irrelevant.  If medical science struggles with understanding these things, don’t expect the salesperson with supplements at your door to have the pill to cure all ills.  Moderation is usually good advice (except when it comes to wisdom).
Next headline on:  HealthHuman Body
The Moth in Spider’s Clothing   02/28/2007    
National Geographic News has a picture story about a moth that mimics a jumping spider.  It appears to work.  Scientists staged a battle royale between contestants of mimics and non-mimics in the ring with their jumping spider enemies, and the mimics won hands down.  The spiders went for the normal moths 62% of the time, but backed away from their mirror-images, the moths in spider clothing, in all but 6% of cases.  The fooled spiders even made aggressive territorial displays against some of their mimics.  The metalmark moths of Costa Rica flare up their wings and make a spidery pose when threatened.  A somewhat similar strategy is recommended for humans when facing a mountain lion.
Mimicry is a common occurrence in nature.  Evolutionists explain this as a result of natural selection, and it is, but not in the macroevolutionary sense Darwin needs.  These moths already have wings, legs, and sophisticated pigmentation software.  If Darwin had discovered a deterministic law, all species would follow this strategy, and every prey would look like its predator.  If the non-mimic moths had the same amount of evolutionary time, why did they remain behind?  Didn’t they learn the Darwinian lesson?  And if the predators also had the same time, why didn’t they catch onto the trick?
    Horizontal changes can occur rapidly under sufficient predation pressure or competition (cp. 02/26/2007 with orchids).  A population of dogs isolated in the Arctic will favor long-haired survivors if the genes for long hair already exist.  A population of desert plants will favor those able to reach deep if the genes to do so already exist.  Find a moth that evolves a machine gun via slow, incremental steps and creationists will take notice (requirement: all the intermediate forms must be found, too).
Suggested new book:  A medical doctor, Geoffrey Simmons, has just completed a new book Billions of Missing Links (Harvest House, 2006).  It is loaded with examples of clever and sophisticated designs in nature that could never have evolved by gradual evolutionary steps.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyAmazing Facts
The Evolution of School Boards   02/27/2007    
A press release from Michigan State University encourages scientists to run for school boards on a pro-evolution platform.  Alarmed that 40% of students are doubting evolution, Jon Miller encourages his fellow evolutionists to get involved in improving “science literacy.”  He sees this as a necessary counter to “other special interest groups, often conservative or religiously fundamental, highly organized in training and supporting candidates.”
    There’s a price to pay for involvement beyond the 15-hour-a-week commitment.  “No scientist can run on a pro-evolution platform and not expect to find themselves engaged in other issues,” Miller said.  In his 3-year stint on the DeKalb County school board, “he learned more about school finances than he had thought possible.”
It’s a free country and whoever has the time, money and talent can give it their best shot.  But would you vote for the Stalin Party for Congress?
    It’s not like the Darwinists don’t already have a complete monopoly on textbooks, curriculum and media with the ACLU-KGB at their beck and call.  Isn’t it interesting that, after decades of government-funded indoctrination, this very one-sided situation in their favor has still not enabled them to convert more students.
    Don’t think the pro-evolution candidates want to just add their voice to a fair and balanced democratic process.  They want to protect the Charlie Temple Mount from entry by other religions.  That’s what happened in Kansas this month (see ARN).
Next headline on:  EducationPolitics and EthicsEvolution
  Checkmate, Charlie: Cellular lineman at work earn an ovation, from 03/31/2005.

Archaeology Alert: 02/27/2007   
If you’re wondering about claims of a discovery of family tombs of Jesus, take a reality check.  Read Todd Bolen’s Bible Places Blog, World Net Daily, an A.P. report on Breitbart.com, and commentaries by NT scholars Ben Witherington and Darrell Bock.  Even National Geographic News said this claim has been “slammed by scholars.”  These kind of anti-Christian blockbuster announcements usually indicate Eastertime is near.  As usual, follow the money trail.
Next headline on:  Bible and Theology

Orchid Deception: Is It Evolution?    02/26/2007  
Orchids comprise the most exotic and diverse group of flowering plants.  Some 30,000 species strong, this group contains members with unusual sex organs.  Some have organs that look and smell like the female of the insect species that pollinate them.  They seduce the males without giving them a reward of nectar for their stopover.  How could such a strategy of deceptive seduction evolve?
    Heidi Ledford explored this question in Nature last week.1  About a third of orchids seduce pollinators without giving them nectar.  The orchids that deliver nectar typically have better reproductive success, at least in terms of numbers of offspring.  Darwin thought that the insect pollinators would eventually learn the trick and avoid the flowers, driving them extinct.  Ledford explained how evolutionary theorists believe, however, that “dishonesty gives them the evolutionary edge.”
    This might work, for instance, by reducing inbreeding.  A pollen-dusted but disgusted visitor may fly to more distant plants, where they are less likely to visit the orchid’s kinfolk.  An evolutionary biologist explained, “To be deceptive means that the orchids have less sex, but the sex is better because it’s not with a close relative.”  From the insect’s point of view, though, how do biologists answer Darwin’s enigma?  Why don’t male bees catch onto the trick?  Some suggest that young males are profligate, not picky, among the scarce females.  One researcher puts himself into the bee brain, saying, “Hey, I will go for anything that looks like a female because I can’t afford not to.”
    Does this explanation hold up?  Does it explain the origin of the elaborate reproductive organs of the flowers, and their amazing ability to mimic the pheromones of female insects?  Further digging in the article shows problems.  Researchers mentioned in the article are looking for evidence of “sympatric speciation,” a controversial idea that has lacked firm evidence despite decades of investigation.2  Evidence that this has actually occurred in the case of orchids is only tentative at best.
    Additionally, today’s oddball orchids may represent degenerates of more complex ancestors.  Ledford comments that “plants produce hundreds of volatile compounds to repel predators and microbes”; one of the pheromone mimics, in fact, a complex chemical concoction, consists of “14 different compounds that are also common components of the waxy cuticle that protects the surface of many plants.”  Elaborating on how this might have happened, she said,

They showed that the same combination of compounds is present in the volatile sex pheromone that a female bee uses to attract a mate, and that a blend of these chemicals could make bees mate with dummy flowers.  The finding also revealed how sexual deception could have evolved in this species by gradual modification of systems the plant was already using to make its own compounds.  Each tweak in the ratio of compounds that increased pollinator visitation would have given the orchid a reproductive advantage.
Yet it seems hardly a law of nature that some species would opt for deception, luring pollinators without a reward, while others would stick with the standard strategy of rewarding visitors with nectar.  The former get less sex with better quality while the latter get more sex (and more offspring) yet with risk of inbreeding.  Plausible as this sounds, the same theory is being used to explain opposite strategies among very similar plants.  This seems hardly a deterministic explanation.
    The most promising evidence for the evolutionary view in Ledford’s article was that a certain Australian species appears to have invented its pollinator’s pheromone from scratch: 
The team found evidence to back this idea [that plants attract pollinators by adjusting their chemical bouquet] in the orchid blooms of Australia. They repeated the experiment [matching plant compounds with pollinator odor receptors] on the orchid Chiloglottis trapeziformis, which tricks the male thynnine wasp (Neozeleboria cryptoides).  Analysis of C. trapeziformis scent revealed a surprise – rather than adapting existing mechanisms, the orchid was producing an entirely different chemical compound they named chiloglottone, which is also a pheromone made by female wasps. They also found that another Ophrys species, O. speculum, concocts a different wasp pheromone by developing several novel compounds. In this case, the orchid mimic worked so well that, when offered a choice between a female or an orchid, male wasps courted the orchid.
The article did not elaborate, however, on how the botanists knew that the ability to produce these compounds was not already present in the ancestor.  Some species produce the chiloglottone, while others do not.  To call a compound “novel” would require knowledge of the genetic history of today’s species.  It would require knowing whether the haves evolved from the have-nots rather than vice versa.
    Nevertheless, the plants and their pollinators show remarkable specificity today.  Insect pollinators such as wasps and bees are often picky about the flowers they visit, and the flowers often show exotic adaptations to succeed in attracting the right insects.  The article left the question of sympatric speciation unresolved.  Ledford did not address, furthermore, the larger questions of how these flowers and insects arose in the first place.
1Heidi Ledford, “News Feature: Plant biology: The flower of seduction,” Nature 445, 816-817 (22 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/445816a. 2Sympatric speciation (as opposed to allopatric speciation) suggests that species can split into two without members becoming geographically isolated.  See 01/15/2003.
Nothing in this article contradicts the view that today’s highly-specialized exotic plants and their pollinators represent degenerations of original complex ancestors.  By degenerations, we mean that they contain less genetic information than the parents.  If the parents already possessed the genetic information and machinery to produce hundreds of volatile compounds, it is plausible to presume that they eventually lost the information that was not needed for survival in specialized environments.  This is not evolution in the macroevolutionary sense – the sense needed for propping up the Charlie idol.
    Think of a well-equipped soldier landing in Iraq with all-purpose gear and deciding he can shuck his snow parka.  He is now better adapted to his new desert environment.  Does that mean he is more highly evolved?  Of course not.  As with the case of blind cave fish (02/16/2007), natural selection (a conservative process) eliminates the excess baggage and only retains and exaggerates what aids survival.  None of this requires new genetic information.  The Darwinians cannot make a case here that orchids and wasps evolved from bacteria.
    That being said, this article shows that the study of microevolutionary adaptations is a legitimate area for research.  Learning more about how orchids and bees have become adapted to their unique ecosystems can help explore the processes of horizontal change over time.  It’s interesting, also, that even the evolutionary biologists themselves admitted that these adaptations could occur rapidly.  One researcher was quoted saying, “We think that speciation can occur fairly quickly in that system.  The plants need only to change their odour bouquet to attract a new pollinator.”  These horizontal sorting-out adaptations do not require millions of years.
    Keep in mind, furthermore, that the concept of “species” is artificial and controversial.  The simplistic high-school definition that a species is a group of organisms able to produce fertile offspring has problems when investigated in detail; what about asexual organisms?  What about fossils?  Philosophers debate over to what extent the word species represents something real in nature instead of an artificial construct we impose on nature.  And for those who think the scientific-sounding word species is more intellectual than the Genesis word kind, we remind them that species comes from the Latin word for kind.  We add that the father of taxonomy, Carolus Linnaeus, was motivated to classify living things in order to explore the limits of the Genesis “kinds”.  As a footnote, his method of classifying plants was by their reproductive organs.  Not all botanists have agreed with his criteria for classifying species; nevertheless, Linnaeus considered the pistils and stamens of flowers exquisitely designed structures for both function and beauty.
    Orchids surely are among the most beautiful, prosperous, diverse life forms adorning our world.  It’s no wonder they are flowers of choice for corsages on that special date.  Yes, they have diversified into a splendid array of fascinating varieties.  Calling this evolution, however, risks confusing the larger issues with Darwinian materialism (see 02/25/2007 commentary) that reduces sex to selfish strategizing and nihilism (05/01/2002, 02/14/2007).  Evolutionists are in no position to claim they understand the origin of sex (e.g., 05/16/2004, 05/12/2004) in all its bewildering complexity and diverse manifestations.  If materialism cannot deal with the origin of sex, much less can it address questions of human mores and aesthetics.  Why we find orchids beautiful, and why we should be honest and faithful to our soulmates, are not questions for Darwin.
    It’s forever important to reason properly and avoid logical pitfalls.  Confusing microevolutionary adaptive sorting with macroevolutionary innovation is the fallacy of equivocation.  Envisioning plants strategizing for reproductive success, and being capable of dishonesty and deception, is the fallacy of personification.  And taking observable evidence from the present and stretching it to absurd lengths into the unobservable past is the fallacy of extrapolation.  Be reasonable (adj., not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason; not excessive).  After that requirement is met, reward your soul: take time to smell the orchids.
Next headline on:  PlantsEvolutionary Theory
History Highlight:  The Two Wilberforces   02/25/2007    
Those seeing the new movie Amazing Grace (opened Feb 23) may not realize the family connection of the film’s hero with the controversy over Darwinism.  William Wilberforce, the champion of abolition who brought an end to the slave trade as depicted in the film, had a son, Samuel, who became a leader in the fight against Darwinism in 1860.  The Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce stood strong not only against the rising tide of liberal theology in the mid-19th century, but took particular umbrage at Darwin’s “flimsy speculation” as he called it.  He wrote a strident review against The Origin of Species for the Quarterly Review that really got under Charles Darwin’s skin.  Darwin recognized the input of his arch-foe, Richard Owen, director of the British Museum, the leading paleontologist of the day.
    Bishop Wilberforce was at the focal point of a pivotal event in the rise of Darwinism.  At a lively series of lectures at the meeting of the British Association at Oxford, just months after the publication of Darwin’s Origin, Wilberforce faced off against Thomas Huxley in a famous interchange about evolution.  Contrary to later depictions of the event as a victory of Huxley’s rationalist science against Wilberforce’s theological dogmatism, each side felt they had made the better case.  Wilberforce, not only a theologian but a professor of mathematics, spoke for nearly half an hour before Huxley.  Apparently he got strong support from the audience.  It is highly doubtful he uttered an insulting jibe about Huxley’s ape ancestry as later revisionists alleged, or that Huxley delivered a devastating counterthrust.  In fact, Huxley and Wilberforce both acted on amicable terms of mutual respect after the episode.1  Darwin himself, though, glad that illness prevented his attendance at the meeting, told Huxley, “I would as soon have died as tried to answer the Bishop in such an assembly.”  He probably would have also had died to have heard his former Beagle captain FitzRoy at the meeting giving an impassioned denunciation of the evolutionary views of the erstwhile shipboard naturalist.
    Many came to the meeting lusting for a fight over the new evolutionary views.  Activists on both sides tended to hear what they wanted to hear and report it accordingly.  Unfortunately for Wilberforce and other theists, the apparent progress of materialist science (as evidence through industrial progress), coupled with discontent over established religion, combined to give Darwin’s views a more “trendy” air that appealed especially to young scientists.  Darwin’s aides capitalized on this in a rapid-fire sequence of articles, attacks, pamphlets, new journals and other publicity strategies in the days following the June meeting at Oxford.  Within 10 years, most opposition to evolution had been swept away.2  Throughout his life, Bishop Wilberforce continued to be an adamant opponent of Darwinism.  His prestige and trenchant criticisms gave the father of evolution fits.  See also the postscript in an article about Amazing Grace by Jonathan Sarfati on Creation on the Web and an analysis of the urban legend by a pro-evolution writer, J.R. Lucas.
1This was also apparently the meeting where Huxley presented his famous “monkeys and typewriters” illustration that has also become an urban legend.  It is not at all credible that Wilberforce, a mathematics professor, was stupefied by Huxley’s imaginative story as often depicted.  See the article by Russell Grigg on CMI.
2The event also took place during a sea change in natural science.  A new class of researchers dubbed “scientists” by Anglican priest and historian William Whewell in 1834 was beginning to carve out its turf.  Formerly “natural philosophers” who worked either from their independent means or within church-run academic institutions, this growing class was seeking academic respectability and a unique professional domain (and the auspices of the universities).  Darwin’s theory came just at the time the “scientist” was emerging as a new kind of professional animal.  Historian of science Lawrence Principe, for example, has emphasized this very period as a kind of turf war for the emerging scientist class.  Books characterizing a “warfare between science and religion” became popular at this time.  One particularly awful example, Principe relates in his Teaching Company series Science and Religion, was written by John Draper – who, incidentally, was the first (and a rather boring) speaker at that same British Association meeting! 
Wilberforce understood better than most that Darwin’s views, if accepted, would be dangerous.  He also perceived that they were less scientific than anti-Christian, relying not on evidence but on “flimsy speculations.”
    Nevertheless, the Huxley-Wilberforce debate became a pivotal event in the history of science.  Its effects rippled far beyond the question of how species arise.  The significance of this event was described by Janet Browne, one of the most respected biographers of Darwin, in a penetrating analysis of the occasion after her depiction of the events as they unfolded on June 30, 1860 at Oxford.  Notice the references to strategy, propaganda, and jockeying for position by the “Darwinites” as she calls them:
The significant thing is that a contest had taken place.  This occasion presented a clearly demarcated display of the respective powers of conflicting authorities as represented in two opposing figures.  Wilberforce and Huxley were perceived as fighting over the right to explain origins—a dispute over the proper boundary between science and the church that seemed as physically real to the participants and to the audience as any territorial or geographical warfare.  Each side was convinced that its claims about the natural world were credible and trustworthy, that its procedures were the only valid account of reality.  As it happened, these opposing forces were unequally balanced in Victorian England.  Science at that time held little innate authority in itself, and its status was sustained mainly through the the rhetorical exertions of its practitioners, among whom Huxley would come to shine, whereas the church was the strongest body in the nation, attracting and retaining the very best intellects of the age.  Afterwards, it was rumored that Huxley’s victory for science was falsely embellished by science’s supporters.  In this dispute, the challenge was clear.  Any success for the Darwinian scheme would require renegotiating—often with bitter controversy—the lines to be drawn between cultural domains.  Science was not yet vested with the authority that would come with the modern era.  Its practitioners were exerting themselves to create professional communities, struggling to receive due acknowledgement of their expertise and the right to choose and investigate issues in their own manner.  As Wilberforce demonstrated, that authority currently lay for the most part with theology.  The gossip running through the crowd afterwards quickly crafted an epic narrative, a collective fiction with an inbuilt meaning much more tangible and important than reality.  All felt they were witnessing history in the making.
    A public polarization of opinion had emerged.  The issue became excitingly simple.  Were humans descended from monkeys or made by God?
—Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002), pp. 124-125.
Browne launched from this episode into a chapter about Darwin’s “Four Musketeers” (Huxley, Hooker, Lyell, and Asa Grey, 01/04/2004) who capitalized on this public relations bonanza.  Within a decade, through an almost master-planned campaign of smearing opponents and popularizing Darwin’s views, they pretty much won over the entire intellectual world.  Now you see why J. P. Moreland said that the Darwinian revolution was primarily a movement to rid science of theology.
The supposed “warfare between science and religion” was not started by the theologians.  Science and theology had a long, mutually supportive history.  It was started by the Darwinites, like Americans John Draper and Andrew D. White, whose revisionist histories (Draper, 1863; White, 1896) needed to demonize churchmen in order to legitimate the Darwinian revolution.  Historian Lawrence Principe emphasizes that the conflict model of the science-religion interaction is dismissed by all modern historians.  For today’s Darwin Party to insist they need to defend science from creationism rings as hollow as hearing Ahmedinejad say he needs nukes for defense.
Evolutionist J. R. Lucas agrees in his analysis of the Huxley-Wilberforce interchange.  “This is the most important reason why the legend grew,” he says; “At the time, Wilberforce was perfectly entitled to have an opinion about science, but in the later years of the century scientists were increasingly jealous of their autonomy, and would see in Huxley’s retort a claim they were increasingly anxious to assert.”  In matters of science, effectively, the opinions of theologians were no longer welcome—an ironic outcome considering Darwin himself had but one degree—in theology!
    One cannot ignore the sociopolitical and economic forces that contributed to the rise of Darwinism.  Other evolutionary theories had been proposed in prior decades (Erasmus Darwin, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Robert Chambers), with only a modicum of success.  Why did Darwin succeed so triumphantly?  Was it the genius of his theory of natural selection, and the scientific evidence he amassed to support it?  Certainly his theory contained more detail and logical development, but to what extent was it a well-timed pretext for more substantive social factors to come into play?
As evidence, consider that natural selection theory fell into disrepute over the next four decades and was nearly moribund by the turn of the century.  Darwin himself had to concede more to Lamarck under repeated attacks on his mechanism by other scientists.  It cannot be, therefore, that evolutionism became popular because of the scientific soundness of Darwin’s mechanism.  There were highly-educated, well-trained and eminently-respected scientists who vigorously opposed Darwin’s ideas: e.g., Adam Sedgwick, Darwin’s geology teacher; Richard Owen, founder and director of the British Museum; John Phillips, Oxford geology professor and president of the Geological Society of London; Louis Agassiz, one of the most famous American scientists of the period, and many others.  In fact, ironically, most of the early criticisms of Darwin’s thesis came from scientists, not theologians.
Nevertheless, the vision of a “fact” of evolution (i.e., common ancestry through material mechanisms, whatever they were) rapidly took over the intellectual world right at the time three powerful social movements were in place to empower its acceptance: (1) the widespread belief in progress (evidenced by the apparent superiority of the British Empire), (2) discontent with establishment Victorian religion (with a resulting value put on secularism), and (3) the rise of the scientist class as an independent profession.  Given these forces, any cause celebre that facilitated movements already underway could have been more celebre than cause.  One can see how the Huxley-Wilberforce story could be blown out of proportion.  It became a distortion, exploited by an avant garde ready to claim its portion by extortion.
    The upshot was that science was taken captive by materialism, not by force of evidence, but by revolutionary tactics of agenda-driven advocates on a turf war against a weakened church (whose own leaders were either undermining the historical foundations of the faith, or were living lives inconsistent with the teachings of Christ).  By 1874, in a presidential address to the British Association, John Tyndall had pretty much established the claim of institutionalized naturalistic science to explore anything and everything it desired, including origins, meaning and ultimate destiny, baptizing its speculations (e.g., 01/17/2007) in the name of science (see James Clerk Maxwell’s satirical poem in the 08/10/2005 commentary).  This went far beyond the first limited claims by Darwin to explain the origin of species.  Like communists, the Darwinites seldom concede power once they have usurped it.  That explains the histrionics of today’s professional science elites when creationism and intelligent design proponents, despite a much longer experience in natural philosophy, move to reassert rights to their historic domains of inquiry (e.g., 01/11/2007, 01/06/2007).
    Samuel Wilberforce’s fight against the incipient intellectual slavery of science to materialism is another story that must be told, because the Darwinite propaganda and subterfuge continues unabated to this day.  There are only preliminary signs its grip is weakening.  The science of the 21st century is too big a challenge for an outdated, simplistic philosophy devised by a 19th century bearded Buddha and his disciples.
    Meanwhile, go see Amazing Grace: the Movie.  It’s an excellent use of the film medium to educate and inspire.  Here is a movie that brings to life a period of history that should be known by everyone.  Watching William Wilberforce struggle through the darkest days of opposition presents a sober lesson: never underestimate the lengths to which those who allow evil to exist will rationalize their positions with pragmatic and intellectual-sounding arguments – as his son Samuel Wilberforce would discover again in 1860.  But never underestimate also the power of perseverance and the courage of rightly-based convictions.  And, as the film illustrates, a little creativity and strategizing can help when dealing with entrenched, self-serving interests.
Next headline on:  MediaDarwinismPolitics and Ethics
Apes Evolved into Humans by using Tools? 02/23/2007   
The BBC News reported on an article in Current Biology on the discovery of chimpanzees in Senegal (Pan troglodytes verus) using spears to hunt prey.  Spear-making is a multistep process that had not been previously observed in animals.  Many species use simple tools such as sticks, twigs, and rocks to get food, but a spear requires up to five steps, including cutting a branch to length, stripping it clean, and gnawing the end to make it sharp.  The report quickly made a connection from chimps using tools to intelligence in early man: “The multiple steps taken by Fongoli chimpanzees in making tools to dispatch mammalian prey involve the kind of foresight and intellectual complexity that most likely typified early human relatives.”
Reuters and National Geographic News also reported the story.
Since evolution requires that we come from something simpler, and chimpanzees are handy, we are subject to a constant stream of propaganda each time research comes across some similarity between humans and chimps.  If toolmaking resulted in a gradual evolutionary increase in intelligence, then crows should soon be writing poetry, because they are way ahead of chimpanzees.  The Behavioral Ecology Research Group website discusses an animal that makes some of the more sophisticated tools found in nature:
New Caledonian crows use tools to forage for invertebrates in dead wood.  They use at least four different tool types including tools cut from the thorny edges of leaves of Pandanus trees.  These tools are produced in a series of manufacturing steps and have complex shapes – they are the most sophisticated animal tools yet discovered.  The shape of Pandanus tools varies regionally, and it has been suggested that this may be the result of cultural transmission of tool designs, with crows learning from relatives and other members of social groups how to manufacture and use particular designs.  In other words, it is conceivable that these crows possess a culture of tool technology – akin to that found in our own species.
Our 08/09/2002 entry said the tool-making ability of these crows exceeds that of chimpanzees.  Yet crows remain crows.  Beavers are among the most skilled architects in the animal kingdom, but beavers remain beavers.  Egyptian vultures use rocks to open ostrich eggs, and yet they remain vultures (see Tufts U).  Nowhere do these articles discuss where this intelligence comes from in the first place.  It is just assumed that since it is there, and there is no other way it could have got there except to evolve, that it therefore somehow evolved
    Evolutionists criticize creationists for invoking miracles any time they come across something they cannot explain, yet they have no problem invoking the magical, unseen power of Evolution to explain anything and everything in the biological world.  The difference between Pan and man is not a matter of gradual acquisition of intelligence, but of our being made in the image of God.
–DK
Next headline on:  MammalsEarly ManBirds
Extrasolar Gas Giants Turn Up Dry   02/22/2007    
A “dramatic step” led to a “big surprise”, said a press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was able to capture the first spectral information from two planets orbiting other stars.  HD 209458b and HD 189733b are so-called “hot Jupiters” – similar in size to our gas giants, they orbit much closer in.  The astronomers predicted they would find evidence of water vapor in the upper atmospheres of these exoplanets, but they found only dust.
    The techniques used are called a “dress rehearsal” in the search for evidence of life around smaller, rocky planets.  “This would allow them to look for the footprints of life – molecules key to the existence of life, such as oxygen and possibly even chlorophyll.”
    The New York Times also reported on the story, as did Space.com.  An artist’s conception appeared on the Feb. 27 Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Sorry for the upset.  There have been many of those in astrobiology lately (02/15/2007).  Thanks for downplaying the obligatory non-sequitur that water equals life.  Maybe we can still relate to HD 209458b and HD 189733b in another sense.  Maybe they have dust bunnies.
Next headline on:  Stars and Stellar AstronomyOrigin of Life
Submarine, Make Like a Fish    02/21/2007  
Submarine designers are learning a thing or two from fish.  The latest fish trick to imitate is the lateral line: a row of specialized sensors fish have along their flanks.  Fish use these for synchronized swimming and predator avoidance.  EurekAlert reported on work by scientists at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne to build artificial lateral line sensors on submarines to augment visual and sonar systems.  The sensors on the artificial lateral line detect changes in water pressure and movement.  They may one day allow submarine operators to “autonomously image hydrodynamic events from their surroundings.”
    Team lead Chang Liu expressed the motivation behind the work: “Although biology remains far superior to human engineering, having a man-made parallel of the biological system allows us to learn much about both basic science and engineering.  To actively learn from biology at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organism level is still the bigger picture.”
The 1960s slogan was: better living through chemistry.  The 2005+ slogan is, better living through biology – or, make like an animal.
Next headline on:  BiomimeticsMarine BiologyAmazing Facts
Watch a Ribosome in Action   02/21/2007    
A remarkable article about a remarkable machine: that’s what Chemical and Engineering News has published about the ribosome, a molecular machine vital to everything alive in the world.  Stu Borman’s article lavishes praise on the details of this assembly-line factory that translates RNA into proteins.  He surveys the history of investigation into the ribosome’s secrets.  The article includes several animations that illustrate current understanding of how the factory works.  Molecular springs and ratchets made out of molecules show off their robotic skill.  Things really get exciting when the translation movie revs up closer to actual speed.
There’s buzz inside the intelligent design community whether to use this as the new mascot of ID instead of the bacterial flagellum.  It surely has a lot going for it.  This is a case of “irreducible complexity all the way down” to borrow a phrase Jonathan Wells elaborated on Michael Behe’s concept.  The flagellum still has an advantage of instant recognition – everyone recognizes an outboard motor when they see one – but the ribosome is even more astonishing.  Plus, it is universal, essential to life, and unevolved from bacteria to man.
    If you remember that dazzling translation sequence in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life, these new animations provided updated versions showing more detail from recent discoveries.  The mechanism gets more and more marvelous with each new discovery.  This machine is well worth getting to know.  The article admits there are many questions still to be answered: for instance, how are the correct transfer-RNAs called into position so quickly?  We have barely begun probing the depths of design of these molecular factories.
    The answers to these and more questions will not come from Darwinian theory, which was not even mentioned in the article.  The future of molecular biology belongs to intelligent design.  Charlie, hand over the keys.  You’re fired.  What for?  Fraud, thinking such things could happen by a series of mistakes.  Dr. Paley, hello!  Nice to have you back.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
  Be afraid when Darwin writes the Law, from 03/15/2005.  Be very afraid that it is already happening, from 03/08/2005 and 03/04/2005.

Define Pseudoscience    02/20/2007  
A couple of articles lately have lumped creationism in with astrology, ESP, space aliens and lucky numbers.  How valid is this grouping?
    Randolph E. Schmid (Associated Press; see Live Science) conveyed statistics presented by Jon Miller (Michigan State U) and a panel of researchers at an AAAS meeting in San Francisco this past Saturday.  “People in the U.S. know more about basic science today than they did two decades ago, good news that researchers say is tempered by an unsettling growth in the belief in pseudoscience such as astrology and visits by extraterrestrial aliens,” Schmid began.  A few sentences down, he adds, “In addition, these researchers noted an increase in college students who report they are ‘unsure’ about creationism as compared with evolution.
    The association was strengthened farther down in the article, when a paragraph about bigfoot and aliens was followed by a paragraph about creationism.  “But there also has been a drop in the number of people who believe evolution correctly explains the development of life on Earth and an increase in those who believe mankind was created about 10,000 years ago,” Schmid writes, presuming to lump these all together into the box labeled pseudoscience.  “Miller said a second major negative factor to scientific literacy was religious fundamentalism and aging.”  These “negative” factors, Schmid contends, could be offset by the “positive” influences of college education, “informal science learning through the media,” and having children at home.
    Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute also chimed in on this theme.  On Space.com he asked, “When Did Science Become the Enemy?”  Shostak deplored the portrayal of scientists as dark, mysterious, suspicious villains, and explored why the media become so infatuated with unscientific heroes and celebrities.  “We’re most interested in people, in the same way that click beetles are most interested in click beetles,” he explained.  “That’s evolution.”  Evolution is also responsible for human attraction to heroes, he argued.  “Heroes, in other words, have survival value.  The peculiar thing is that American heroes aren’t often very good at science.”
    So what does science really represent, in contrast to pseudoscience and pop culture?  Shostak did not attack creationism directly in the article.  The association was implicit, though: the lead illustration prominently displays icons of science: a spiral galaxy and other astronomical objects, an equation, and the fatherly portrait of Charles Darwin.  See also last week’s entry by another SETI Institute leader, Edna Devore, who advocated celebration of Darwin Day and Evolution Sunday as ways of honoring science (02/11/2007).

In both of these articles is the overt or covert message that if you love science, you will love Charlie, and if you are a fool or afraid of science, you will mistrust the Father Figure of Evolution and run to your security blanket, the Bible.  This is how propaganda works, particularly the use of association and loaded words.  The goal is to achieve a subliminal response without making you think.  The message is: the real heroes in the world are the Charlie-worshipers, and the poopheads are the creationists and other pseudoscientists like UFO chasers who live by their daily horoscope or read the Bible.
    Surely many creationists reading this will say, “Wait a minute; I abhor astrology.  I love science.  I have nothing but contempt for the supermarket tabloids about space aliens and ESP.”  Many may have degrees in science, teach science, or sit on public school boards.  How did you get lumped into the same pool with fruitcakes?  The answer is: it’s a trick.  It’s an escape from debating and understanding the issues in the creation-evolution controversy.
    We could play that game, too.  In fact, how would they like it if we launched a campaign to call Darwinism pseudoscience?  We could certainly make a good case.  We could call attention to the fact that it is held to with religious ardor despite being repeatedly falsified, engages in mythmaking, dogmatizes its victims and relies on irrationality for its maintenance.  Yes!  Let’s rid our schools of pseudoscience.  Out with Darwin!  No more Darwin exhibits in our national museums.  No more finch beak pseudoscience in the textbooks.  Portray, instead, the noble, lonely ID scientist as the seeker of the truth wherever the evidence leads, even if it leads toward design.
    Or, we could go on a smear campaign to lump all Darwinists with Hitler.  If you think natural selection is a good idea in any sense, you are in favor of incinerating people in ovens.  We must rid the world of hate, anti-Semitism, communism, apartheid, evolution, Jonestown-like cults, despots and dictators.  How’s that?  Isn’t association a fun game?
    Such lumpings of conglomerates into emotionally-charged labels represent shoddy thinking.  A case can be made that Darwin influenced Hitler, and that his ideas underlie many destructive ideologies.  It does not follow that Seth Shostak is a Nazi because he believes in evolution.  There are creationists who accept a young earth (one just earned a PhD in science at a secular university: see story at Uncommon Descent).  It does not follow that they expect a miracle around every corner.
Another problem in these articles is their failure to define pseudoscience.  They do not define it because it cannot be defined.  Any time philosophers of science try to create a line of demarcation between science and pseudoscience, they wind up excluding “legitimate” sciences and including illegitimate ones.  There are no sufficient conditions that, if met, guarantee something is science, and no set of necessary conditions that, if not met, guarantee something else is pseudoscience.  Falsifiability, explanatory power, ability to make predictions, testability, adherence to natural law or mathematical expression, simplicity, elegance, holding a theory tentatively, acceptance by consensus of professionals – put together any combination of criteria you wish, and you will include some pseudosciences and exclude some recognized sciences.  Furthermore, there is no one scientific method!  You cannot find all sciences adhering to a methodology or set of methods that cannot also be found in non-scientific fields, and you will find some pseudosciences that use the same “scientific” methods in their work.  This is not to argue that science and pseudoscience are all of the same cloth, but the problem of demarcation is much more difficult than often realized.
The Darwin dogmatists are only speeding the collapse of their ideology by relying on propaganda tactics like the reckless application of the pseudoscience label on their critics.  Let them attend to the rampant pseudoscience in their own house.  Meanwhile, let all who honor science practice its values: make the best case you can based on evidence, and, humbly recognizing the limitations of science and the human propensity for self-deception, be willing to follow the evidence where it leads.  (One might notice that these values are not entirely foreign to theologians or practitioners in most other scholarly disciplines.) 
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Article: Phillip Johnson Still Wields the Wedge   02/19/2007    
The standard-bearer of the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) since 1991, Berkeley Law Professor Dr. Phillip E. Johnson, still wields his pen like a wedge against Darwinism.  His latest article for Think magazine (The Royal Institute of Philosophy) is reproduced on the Discovery Institute website.  He shares the current status of the movement, his disappointments with the entrenched dogmatism of the scientific elite institutions as well as satisfaction over the victories by design scientists, and reiterates many of the themes for which he is famous.  Memorable line: “The goal of the Intelligent Design Movement is to achieve an open philosophy of science that permits consideration of any explanations toward which the evidence may be pointing.”
Adding any comments would be gilding the lily.  Go read it.
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Theories of the Moon: Looney Tunes?   02/19/2007    
The TV science channels tell it like a matter of fact: our Moon originated from the coalescing debris of a glancing impact with Earth from a Mars-sized object, sometime long ago.  They even have computer animations to show how it all happened.  How reliable is this theory, though?  This month’s Planetary Report from The Planetary Society contains some sobering qualifiers from Dave Stevenson, a professor of planetary science at Caltech.
  • In many respects, our Moon is the best-studied body other than Earth.... If we have already learned so much, what do we expect to gain by going back? .... I argue ... that we really don’t understand the Moon very well, and that it is a body the understanding of which features prominently in our attempts to figure out what took place when the planets formed.
  • The Apollo program and subsequent research revealed that our Moon is an oddball.
  • What’s wrong with the standard story of the Moon that we need more explanation to fix the story?  ... Part of the answer lies in something that often happens in science: we have a story that is widely accepted, but it is a story that is actually incomplete and poorly tested.  To some extent, the so-called giant impact origin of the Moon has gained acceptance through the failure of alternatives rather than through its evident correctness.
  • Several alternatives to the impact origin have been proposed.... All these alternatives have very major and extensively studied shortcomings.  This is, however, not the same as saying that we know for sure that the giant impact happened—it simply seems more likely than rival hypotheses.
  • Stevenson referred to the recent finding of activity on the surface (see 11/09/2006) as an indication that the moon’s interior must still be hot.  Though he pointed to a few indirect evidences in support of the leading theory, the tone of his article is that the gaps in our knowledge are still large – even after the Apollo missions make the Moon “the only body (other than Earth) for which we have rocks of known provenance.”  And if we can’t get the Moon right, what does that say about our theories for the origin of the rest of the Solar System?  See also the 01/26/2007 entry.
    Stevenson’s candor was refreshing, even if it contains an ulterior motive for justifying the Planetary Society’s lobbying for new lunar missions.  Just remember these doubts the next time the news media give the impression that we have our tidy theories all locked up.  The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory – see Best-in-Field Fallacy in the Baloney Detector.  Remember also something Dr. Kevin Grazier (JPL) said in the film The Privileged Planet: “if our moon didn’t exist, neither would we.”
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    Tangled String: Cosmology on the Brink   02/18/2007    
    The February cover of Astronomy Magazine poses an intriguing question: “What if string theory is wrong?”  Maybe you are unfamiliar with string theory.  Writer Sten Odenwald is not talking about violins or balls of string, but about the current leading theory of fundamental physics.  “Superstring theory,” Odenwald explains, “is based on three ideas that remain experimentally unproven after 30 years of research: the principle of supersymmetry, additional spatial dimensions, and gravity as a force defined by the exchange of quantum particles.”
        You don’t need to understand these three ideas in depth other than to know they are extremely weird.  They envision exotic particles like selectrons and squarks, and physical dimensions and universes we could never know except by mathematical inference.  Yet this theory is the leading candidate in an attempt to unify the forces of nature and give a physical explanation for why the universe is the way it is.  It seems strange that scientists would cling to a theory that has no experimental support.  Odenwald mentions that the Steady-State Cosmology held sway for some 30 years before collapsing.  Is string theory, of comparable age, also on the brink?
        Odenwald is not predicting an impending collapse, nor are most cosmologists.  But he does ask what would happen to physics and cosmology if it turns out string theory is wrong.  Here’s where the consequences are astronomical:
    Without superstring theory, we’d lose the intriguing philosophical appeal for the multiverse, with its infinite and eternal creativity in spawning new universes.  We’d have no mathematics for spanning the gap between everyday physics and the high energies where quantum gravity operates.  The road to creating a quantum description of gravity will be a murky one.
        More immediately, dark matter and dark energy would remain imponderable enigmas, shorn of any clues about where they come from.  Astronomers can live without knowing the quantum properties of gravity.  But to learn that 96 percent of the cosmos is unknowable would be a bitter pill for astronomers to swallow.
        It would be even worse for physicists.  Without a logical framework in which to pose and answer questions, our inquiries into the fundamental aspects of the physical world would devolve into semantic quibbles.
    Mathematical knowledge gained from string theory has advanced so far since the 1970s, no one is envisioning a return.  Odenwald reminds readers also that general relativity had a rough time gaining experimental support at first.  Still, he leaves it as an open question whether string theory will survive middle age.  It’s “sobering to realize what we stand to lose if physics’ best bet proves to be a complete dead end.”
    Something is terribly wrong with a theory that cannot make predictions that are experimentally verifiable, posits imponderable substances, and envisions multiple universes we can never know, just to keep the universe eternal.  Earlier scientists were ridiculed for appealing to imponderable substances like caloric and phlogiston.  Those were tame compared to today’s dark matter and dark energy, extra dimensions, and multiple universes.  Cosmologists claim their imponderables make up the vast bulk of reality, such that we inhabit a tiny fraction of what “must” exist.
        But why must these imponderables exist? (see PhysOrg.com for an alternative view).  Odenwald says, “In some respects, a world without superstring theory isn’t so bad.  The standard model and ordinary general relativity hold all astronomers need to describe accurately most of the phenomena they study, from galaxy evolution and supernova detonations, to the extreme physics of neutron stars and black holes.”  OK, so why not leave well enough alone?  Richard Feynman said, “Perhaps it is difficult for physicists to unify gravity with the other forces because nature never intended for them to be unified in the first place.”
        Two motivations may be driving the superstring craze.  One is the desire for a theory to be elegant.  Cosmologists have found many laws that are simple and elegant, allowing a wide variety of phenomena to be expressed in simple equations.  Well, that’s great, but does nature owe us an obligation to dress according to our style?  This is an example of a metaphysical paradigm as the controversial philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn described it.  It’s a way of doing science that the guild of scientists agrees on.  Philosopher J. P. Moreland calls this a second-order theory change – not just a change of one theory with another one, but a change in what scientists value in a theory.  Scientists used to think of their craft as the art of verifying natural phenomena by experimentation.  If we are changing the rules now, such that a theory must be elegant, then we are on a different track entirely.  A scientist remains on good terms with the guild if he comes up with theories that are elegant, even if they have no connection with reality.  What if, however, reality turns out to be very inelegant in this arena?  What if we are stuck with an ugly theoretical mess?  What if no amount of mathematical modeling will reduce all the forces to a unified set of equations?  A man spoke into the sky, “Universe, I exist!” to which the universe responded, “But that fact places on me no sense of obligation.”
        The second motivation driving the superstring craze is the desire to escape intelligent design (11/27/2006).  The fine-tuning of the laws of physics for our existence has been studied now for well over 60 years.  There’s no escaping the anthropic principle (08/11/2006).  If the laws and constants of physics were not what they are, we could not be here to study them.  Theists have a ready answer for this.  The God who spoke the universe and its laws into existence formed it to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18).  That cosmologists would escape into multiple universes to avoid the obvious is a measure of extreme desperation.
        Where did this desperation come from?  Think back to the late 19th century, when Darwinism was on the rise.  Various social, political, economic and philosophical trends were moving away from natural theology and toward philosophical materialism.  The Myth of Progress was the “in” thing.  Materialists such as Tyndall and Huxley inculcated a third-order theory change: a change in what constitutes science itself.  There were two sides to this theory change: an exclusion, and an inclusion.  Moreland explains that Darwinism was an attempt to exclude theology from science.  As a consequence, this led to the inclusion of storytelling.
    This is commonly stated that appeals to miracles and the supernatural are no longer permissible in science.  OK, define miracle.  Is it a one-time event, with no known cause?  Is it a completely unpredictable circumstance?  What is supernatural?  Does it involve imponderable entities beyond the range of human experience?  Undoubtedly the materialist is thinking of angels dancing on the head of a pin, but let’s ask some interesting questions.  Was the big bang a miracle?  Are extra dimensions beyond experience supernatural?  In what way do extra universes differ from the supernatural, if they can never cross into our experience?  At least God interacts with the world and with human beings, but the materialists are invoking alternate realities that can never be known by scientific investigation.
        Ask the question also whether intelligence is a legitimate subject for scientific inquiry.  Is information an imponderable substance?  Is it really possible to reduce intelligence and information to atoms?  If we deal with information on a daily basis (as in fact, your intelligence is right now pondering the semantics of this information you are reading), why should not science be able to investigate information and its causes?  These examples show that the issues are more nuanced than often described in the either-or dichotomy of natural vs. supernatural.  See also the 05/11/2006 entry with its question, “Is our universe natural?”
    Since appeals to design have been ruled out of bounds, today’s cosmologists are forced into speculating about how material objects created worlds of exquisite design and complexity without help from a Mind.  It’s not that science must be defined this way.  The purveyors of this third-order theory change won a strategic battle in academia.  As a result, cosmologists are stuck with material particles and efficient causes as their only explanatory resources – even if such limitations lead to absurdities.
        The founders of science would be shocked to see modern cosmologists auditioning for the theater of the absurd.  It’s one thing to discover the absurd, but quite another to stay there.  Arthur C. Clarke once said that the only way to find out the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.  OK, fine.  Now that cosmologists have tested that boundary, will they be prepared to retreat, and escape back to reality?  Watch them.  If they jump off the cliff, they weren’t really scientists.  They weren’t really interested in following the evidence wherever it leads, but rather in fulfilling their own selfish desires in the futility of their own imaginations (01/17/2006).
    Next headline on:  CosmologyPhysics
    Blind Cave Fish: Can Darwinism Be Credited for “Regressive Evolution”?   02/16/2007    
    It is a worldwide phenomenon that cave creatures go blind.  Some cave fish lose their eyes entirely; in others, the eyes shrivel and lose function.  In many cave fish, scale pigmentation also changes.  Are these gradual modifications due to natural selection, Darwin’s mechanism of evolution, or to genetic drift?  Darwin himself could not see any positive value in functionless eyes.  He attributed the blindness to disuse – a Lamarckian idea.  Maybe his mechanism was the better explanation after all.
        Some American biologists investigated whether the changes in cave fish were due to natural selection or random genetic drift.  Their publication in the upcoming issue (Feb. 20) of Current Biology1 was summarized by Science Daily.  Basically, they concluded that the pigmentation changes are due to genetic drift, because sometimes the pigments grew lighter and sometimes they got darker.  But since the eyes always atrophied, they ascribed the blindness to natural selection – “regressive evolution” as they called it.  Evolution selects for blindness because of the high energetic cost of maintaining eyes.  Their explanation of this cost brings out some amazing facts about animal eyes in general:
    Is it possible that Darwin’s premise was simply incorrect?  Are eyes in a cave disadvantageous, and if so, why?  In essence, the argument against selection is that the cost of making an eye is trivial compared to the cost of its replacement tissue in the socket or that the developmental cost is paid by cave fish anyway because the eyes start developing and only degenerate after many cell cycles of tissue growth and replacement.  However, modern physiology and molecular biology suggest that these arguments might address the wrong costs.  The vertebrate retina is one of the most energetically expensive tissues, with a metabolism surpassing even that of the brain.  Underscoring this high metabolic demand is the observation that one manifestation of genetic defects decreasing the efficiency of mitochondria is blindness (e.g., Leber’s hereditary optical neuropathy).  Thus, maintenance of eyes might pose a significant burden in the cave environment.  Increasing this burden, the vertebrate retina uses more energy in the dark than in the light because the membranes of the photoreceptor disks must be maintained in the hyperpolarized state until they are depolarized in response to light.  Oxygen consumption by the vertebrate retina is approximately 50% greater in the dark than in the light.  Adding further to the retina’s cost is its structural maintenance.  Ten percent of the photoreceptor outer disks in vertebrates are shed and renewed each day, and the structure may be completely replaced over 35 times yearly.
    So in a sense, they exonerated Darwin’s famous mechanism for its ability to explain the phenomenon.  But in another sense, by underscoring the high cost of maintaining eyes with all their parts, they re-opened the question of how such a complex visual system could have evolved in the first place – by a blind process.
    1Protas, Conrad, Gross, Tabin and Borowsky, “Regressive Evolution in the Mexican Cave Tetra, Astyanax mexicanus,” Current Biology, online preprint for the Feb. 20, 2007 issue.
    The Bible describes a storm at sea endured by Luke and Paul (Acts 27).  When the sailors realized the trouble they were in, they knew what to do: lighten the ship.  Over the sides went the cargo and the tackle – of little use with a higher priority (survival) in mind.  In an Old Testament story of a storm at sea (Jonah 1), the wish to survive drove another crew to toss overboard another piece of costly but cumbersome baggage: Jonah.  In neither of these cases could it be claimed that survival of the fittest was helping the ships evolve into speedboats.
        According to Darwinian theory, selection can be progressive and regressive.  Populations can climb up a fitness peak, and slide down a fitness peak.  Natural selection can add new organs and shed useless organs.  But think; if the world’s living things are always undergoing neutral genetic drift and regressive evolution, Charlie’s little myth will never produce endless forms most beautiful.  Everything will go extinct!  Assuming that “regressive evolution” awards Charlie another medal, therefore, gives him only fool’s gold.  This is not the way to explain the living world.
        What have we learned?  Natural selection is real.  It is downward!  This is the sense in which Edward Blyth (10/10/2002) and even William Paley (12/18/2003) understood it (before Darwin plagiarized their ideas and turned them upside down).  Natural selection is a conservative process.  It either maintains what exists or gets rid of it.  It cannot generate new organs and new genetic information.  As Hugo deVries quipped, survival of the fittest does not explain the arrival of the fittest.  Removal of the fitless is all this case has demonstrated.  Natural selection gets rid of things that inhibit survival in a storm and tosses them overboard.  That is not evolution in the sense most people have been taught.  Have these scientists, or Darwin, actually demonstrated that random mutations could build an eye or any other complex organ from scratch?  Only in their dream-world of imagination (01/17/2007).
        More importantly, these scientists have reminded us how precious and costly the organs of sense are to their possessors.  Romeo may say Juliet’s eyes are like pearls, but they are much more valuable.  They are the lamps of the body.  It takes elaborate, costly power plants and extensive maintenance crews to keep them running.  The crews must be paid daily in hamburgers, french fries and chocolate.  (OK, soy, garlic, and broccoli for some.)
        Darwin may be able to explain how eyes break down, but not where the blueprints and programs for eyes came from.  To fail to see the sense of this is to enter Plato’s cave, where lingering too long diminishes all sense into shadows.  The Darwin Party headquarters is located down there, past the twilight zone.  Temptresses at the entrance lure passers by (students) with promises that greater enlightenment lies below (01/12/2007).  Victims are usually afraid of the dark at first, but become seduced with the promise that the decreasing daylight will be replaced by a better, inner light of imagination (01/17/2007).
        Thus the blind lead the blind into their niche with their bait and switch sales pitch.  Inductees (12/11/2006) are taught the ritual: offer the Charlie Buddha, the idol of the cave (07/10/2006 footnote), his daily incense and all will go well (07/18/2006, 08/07/2003 commentary).  Once acclimated and accepted by the clan, novitiates find the light of imagination to be bright, beautiful, and liberating, filled with wondrous possibilities (12/21/2005, 12/05/2006).  Visions of complex creatures emerging from the void play across the screen of the mind’s eye (12/10/2006, 11/11/2006).  Simultaneously, the skin grows extremely sensitive.  Any suggestion that a true light can be found above ground produces a violent reaction (01/11/2007, 10/27/2006).
        Beware, travelers; while you are able, come to the light.  Then learn to walk in the lightCaves are interesting places to visit, but never enter without a reliable flashlight and spare batteries.  Read these pages for details.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryFish and Marine CreaturesGenetics
    OOL on the Rocks    02/15/2007  
    An important survey of the origin-of-life (OOL) field has been published in Scientific American.  Robert Shapiro, a senior prize-winning chemist, cancer researcher, emeritus professor and author of books in the field, debunks the Miller experiment, the RNA World and other popular experiments as unrealistic dead ends.  Describing the wishful thinking of some researchers, he said, “In a form of molecular vitalism, some scientists have presumed that nature has an innate tendency to produce life’s building blocks preferentially, rather than the hordes of other molecules that can also be derived from the rules of organic chemistry.”
        Shapiro had been explaining that millions of organic molecules can form that are not RNA nucleotides.  These are not only useless to life, they get in the way and clog up the beneficial reactions.  He went on to describe how extrapolation from the Miller Experiment produced an unearned sense of euphoria among researchers: “By extrapolation of these results, some writers have presumed that all of life’s building could be formed with ease in Miller-type experiments and were present in meteorites and other extraterrestrial bodies.  This is not the case,” he warned in a section entitled, “The Soup Kettle Is Empty.”  He said that no experiment has produced amino acids with more than three carbons (life uses some with six), and no Miller-type experiment has ever produced nucleotides or nucleosides, essential for DNA and RNA.
        Shapiro described in some detail the difficult steps that organic chemists employ to synthesize the building blocks of RNA, using conditions highly unrealistic on the primitive earth.  “The point was the demonstration that humans could produce, however inefficiently, substances found in nature,” he said.  “Unfortunately, neither chemists nor laboratories were present on the early Earth to produce RNA.”  Here, for instance, is how scientists had to work to create cytosine, one of the DNA bases:
    I will cite one example of prebiotic synthesis, published in 1995 by Nature and featured in the New York Times.  The RNA base cytosine was prepared in high yield by heating two purified chemicals in a sealed glass tube at 100 degrees Celsius for about a day.  One of the reagents, cyanoacetaldehyde, is a reactive substance capable of combining with a number of common chemicals that may have been present on the early Earth.  These competitors were excluded.  An extremely high concentration was needed to coax the other participant, urea, to react at a sufficient rate for the reaction to succeed.  The product, cytosine, can self-destruct by simple reaction with water.  When the urea concentration was lowered, or the reaction allowed to continue too long, any cytosine that was produced was subsequently destroyed.  This destructive reaction had been discovered in my laboratory, as part of my continuing research on environmental damage to DNA.  Our own cells deal with it by maintaining a suite of enzymes that specialize in DNA repair.
    There seems to be a stark difference between the Real World and the imaginary RNA World.  Despite this disconnect, Shapiro describes some of the hype the RNA World scenario generated when Gilbert first suggested it in 1986.  “The hypothesis that life began with RNA was presented as a likely reality, rather than a speculation, in journals, textbooks and the media,” he said.  He also described the intellectual hoops researchers have envisioned to get the scenario to work: freezing oceans, drying lagoons, dry deserts and other unlikely environments in specific sequences to keep the molecules from destroying themselves.  This amounts to attributing wish-fulfillment and goal-directed behavior to inanimate objects, as Shapiro makes clear with this colorful analogy:
    The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed that the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence.  He had demonstrated the possibility of the event; it was only necessary to presume that some combination of natural forces (earthquakes, winds, tornadoes and floods, for example) could produce the same result, given enough time.  No physical law need be broken for spontaneous RNA formation to happen, but the chances against it are so immense, that the suggestion implies that the non-living world had an innate desire to generate RNA.  The majority of origin-of-life scientists who still support the RNA-first theory either accept this concept (implicitly, if not explicitly) or feel that the immensely unfavorable odds were simply overcome by good luck.
    Realistically, unfavorable molecules are just as likely to form.  These would act like terminators for any hopeful molecules, he says.  Shapiro uses another analogy.  He pictures a gorilla pounding on a huge keyboard containing not only the English alphabet, but every letter of every language and all the symbol sets in a typical computer.  “The chances for the spontaneous assembly of a replicator in the pool I described above can be compared to those of the gorilla composing, in English, a coherent recipe for the preparation of chili con carne.”  That’s why Gerald Joyce, Mr. RNA-World himself, and Leslie Orgel, a veteran OOL researcher with Stanley Miller, concluded that the spontaneous appearance of chains of RNA on the early earth “would have been a near miracle.
        Boy, and all this bad news is only halfway through the article.  Does he have any good news?  Not yet; we must first agree with a ground rule stated by Nobel laureate Christian de Duve, who called for “a rejection of improbabilities so incommensurably high that they can only be called miracles, phenomena that fall outside the scope of scientific inquiry.”  That rules out starting with complex molecules like DNA, RNA, and proteins (see online book).
        From that principle, Shapiro advocated a return to scenarios with environmental cycles involving simple molecules.  These thermodynamic or “metabolism first” scenarios are only popular among about a third of OOL researchers at this time.  Notable subscribers include Harold Morowitz, Gunter Wachtershauser, Christian de Duve, Freeman Dyson and Shapiro himself.  Their hypotheses, too, have certain requirements that must be met: an energy source, boundaries, ways to couple the energy to the organization, and a chemical network or cycle able to grow and reproduce.  (The problems of genetics and heredity are shuffled into the future in these theories.)  How are they doing?  “Over the years, many theoretical papers have advanced particular metabolism first schemes, but relatively little experimental work has been presented in support of them,” Shapiro admits.  “In those cases where experiments have been published, they have usually served to demonstrate the plausibility of individual steps in a proposed cycle.”  In addition, “An understanding of the initial steps leading to life would not reveal the specific events that led to the familiar DNA-RNA-protein-based organisms of today.”  Nor would plausible prebiotic cycles prove that’s what happened on the early earth.  Success in the metabolism-first experiments would only contribute to hope that prebiotic cycles are plausible in principle, not that they actually happened.
        Nevertheless, Shapiro himself needed to return to the miracles he earlier rejected.  “Some chance event or circumstance may have led to the connection of nucleotides to form RNA,” he speculates.  Where did the nucleotides come from?  Didn’t he say their formation was impossibly unlikely?  How did they escape rapid destruction by water?  Those concerns aside, maybe nucleotides initially served some other purpose and got co-opted, by chance, in the developing network of life.  Showing that such thoughts represent little more than a pipe dream, though, he admits: “Many further steps in evolution would be needed to ‘invent’ the elaborate mechanisms for replication and specific protein synthesis that we observe in life today.”
        Time for Shapiro’s grand finale.  For an article predominantly discouraging and critical, his final paragraph is surprisingly upbeat.  Recounting that the highly-implausible big-molecule scenarios imply a lonely universe, he offers hope with the small-molecule alternative.  Quoting Stuart Kauffman, “If this is all true, life is vastly more probable than we have supposed.  Not only are we at home in the universe, but we are far more likely to share it with unknown companions.”
    Update  Letters to the editor appeared in Science1 the next day, debating the two leading theories of OOL.  The signers included most of the big names: Stanley Miller, Jeffrey Bada, Robert Hazen and others debating Gunter Wachtershauser and Claudia Huber.  After sifting through the technical jargon, the reader is left with the strong impression that both camps have essentially falsified each other.  On the primordial soup side, the signers picked apart details in a paper by the metabolism-first side.  Concentrations of reagants and conditions specified were called “implausible” and “exceedingly improbable.”
        Wachtershauser and Huber countered that the “prebiotic soup theory” requires a “protracted, mechanistically obscure self-organization in a cold, primitive ocean,” which they claim is more improbable than the volcanic environment of their own “pioneer organism” theory (metabolism-first).  It’s foolish to expect prebiotic soup products to survive in the ocean, of all places, “wherein after some thousand or million years, and under all manner of diverse influences, the magic of self-organization is believed to have somehow generated an unspecified first form of life.”  That’s some nasty jabbing between the two leading camps.
    1Letters, “Debating Evidence for the Origin of Life on Earth,” Science, 16 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5814, pp. 937 - 939, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5814.937c.
    Thank you, Robert Shapiro, for unmasking the lies we have been told for nearly a century.  The Miller Experiment, the RNA World, and all the hype of countless papers, articles, popular press pieces and TV animations are impossible myths.  We appreciate your help revealing why it’s all been hyped bunk.  Now finish the job and show that yours is no better.
        You know you cannot stay with small molecules forever.  You have not begun to bridge the canyon between metabolic cycles with small molecules to implausible genetic networks with large molecules (RNA, DNA and proteins).  Any way you try to close the gap, you are going to run into the very same criticisms you raised against the RNA-World storytellers.  You cannot invoke natural selection without accurate replication (see online book).
    Funny how these people presume that if they can just get molecules to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to the replicator stage, Charlie and Tinker Bell will take over from there.  Before you can say 4 Gya, biochemists emerge!
    Shapiro’s article is very valuable for exposing the vast difference between the hype over origin of life and its implausibilities – nay, impossibilities – in the chemistry of the real world.  His alternative is weak and fraught with the very same difficulties.  If a golf ball is not going to finish holes 14-18 on its own without help, it is also not going to finish holes 1-5.  If a gorilla is not going to type a recipe in English for chili con carne from thousands of keys on a keyboard, it is not going to type a recipe for hot soup either, even using only 1% of the keys.  Furthermore, neither the gorilla nor the golf ball are going to want to proceed further on the evolutionist project.  We cannot attribute an “innate desire” to a gorilla, a golf ball, or a sterile planet of chemicals to produce coded languages and molecular machines.
        Sooner or later, all the machinery, the replicators, the genetic codes and complex entropy-lowering processes are going to have to show up in the accounting.  Once Shapiro realizes that his alternative is just as guilty as the ones he criticizes, we may have an ardent new advocate of intelligent design in the ranks.  Join the winning side, Dr. Shapiro, before sliding with the losers and liars into the dustbin of intellectual history.
    Next headline on:  Origin of Life
    Darwinism and the Valentine’s Day Massacre    02/14/2007  
    Romance, schmomance,” snarls the title of press release on EurekAlert from the Association for Psychological Science.  “Natural selection continues even after sex.”  Not only is natural selection driving the mating process in humans, in other words, but it continues even down to the level of sperm cells competing to reach the egg.  Instead of love, caring, tenderness, soul bonding, or any kind of spiritual values, this article is all about nit and grit.  Grungy descriptions of body parts and processes present the evolutionary picture as all competition and conflict, a “coevolutionary arms race between the sexes.”  Natural selection is even used to explain lustful feelings, sexual performance, rivalry, jealousy and infidelity: e.g., “the human male may want to copulate as soon as possible as insurance against possible extra-pair copulation.”  Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart.
        Darwinism’s propensity to destroy traditional views of eros extends to agape as well.  Beginning with Darwin, evolutionists have wondered how unselfish love and self-sacrifice could have come about by natural selection.  Only humans appear moved to compassion and charity with distant people not of their own kin.  Convinced that these behaviors have a material basis, evolutionists propose selection-based explanations in the scientific literature regularly.
        One such view was summarized on New Scientist in December by Richard Fisher.  Altruism is costly – sometimes with one’s life, ending all chance of passing on one’s genes.  How, then, could the gene for altruism be passed on?  While recognizing that “The origin of human altruism has puzzled evolutionary biologists for many years,” Fisher suggests that “Humans may have evolved altruistic traits as a result of a ‘cultural tax’ we paid to each other early in our evolution, a new study suggests.”  Maybe that’s like the joke about the lottery being a tax paid by people who are bad at math.  It seems a little stretched to picture Mother Theresa acting out behaviors that early apes developed as pawns of their selfish genes.
        The possibility of anything beyond blind forces of natural selection producing the appearance of selfless love never enters the equation in these papers.  Both Nature and Science the week of Dec. 7 included book reviews and articles that dealt specifically with altruism and cooperation – none of them entertaining in the slightest way that real love had anything to do with it.  To these evolutionary biologists, human behavior was just a more difficult problem of the same nature as that of honeybees, and subject to the same equations: for example, Samuel Bowles wrote,1 “This study investigates whether, as an empirical matter, intergroup competition and reproductive leveling might have allowed the proliferation of a genetically transmitted predisposition to behave altruistically.”  Happy Valentine’s Day, world.
        Oddly, these same scientists and mainstream journal editors do not hesitate to preach the need for scientific “ethics.”  This is usually after a major scandal, or public distrust of research threatens funding for embryonic stem cells, cloning or human-animal chimeras or whatever.  For instance, the editors of Nature Jan. 18 got downright preachy,2 encouraging scientists to lead by example with high ethical standards.  “Everybody likes a good scandal, and there is nothing like a fresh allegation of research misconduct to set tongues wagging in the scientific community and outside it,” the editorial began.  It ended with the following call to righteousness:
    A respectable level of ethics training for all postgraduate students is an important element of this.  It needs to be introduced at all research universities – alongside stricter rules on record-keeping, and arrangements for protecting whistleblowers, where this is missing at the national level.
        But most important of all, as the first scientific studies of the factors behind good conduct confirm, is the example set by senior researchers themselves.  It is here in the laboratory – not in the law courts or the offices of a university administrator – that the trajectory of research conduct for the twenty-first century is being set.
    The wording carefully avoids the value-laden word morals, substituting more-nebulous and less-judgmental words ethics and good conduct.  It hints that there are biological studies of “good conduct” that play into society’s support for science.  These editorials, however, usually fail to define what good is, or why an independent researcher should subscribe to a relative ethical standard when the referred-to studies on human cooperation allow for a certain number of non-cooperators to succeed.
    1Samuel Bowles, “Group Competition, Reproductive Leveling, and the Evolution of Human Altruism,” Science, 8 December 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5805, pp. 1569 - 1572, DOI: 10.1126/science.1134829.
    2Editorial, “Leading by example,” Nature 445, 229 (18 January 2007) | doi:10.1038/445229a.
    So Tinker Bell just shot Cupid.  Folks, this is where the rubber meets the road in the battle between the Darwin-Only-Darwin-Only DODOs and the noble and altruistic Visigoths.  If you are repulsed at the ugliness of the wreckage left in the wake of Darwinian thinking, thank God: you still might have a soul.  We shudder at the criminal mind that will torture a child without any sense of right or wrong, and even get a perverse delight out of it, but how does that differ intellectually from what the Darwinists say about love?  They have done worse than rob it of any meaning, value, purpose and virtue.  They have turned altruism into selfishness, purity into dirt, and tenderness into conflict.  No wonder we are raising a generation of sex-crazed young people looking at a meaningless existence and deciding it’s all about me, me, me and what my selfish genes make me do.  Never before has selfishness been given complete license by a world view as it has by Darwinism.  It has made selfishness the ultimate virtue, justified by science.
        There are three things you need to understand about the Darwinian explanations for love and altruism that rob the DODO heads of any credibility, and make them worthy of the utmost scorn and adamant opposition.
    1. The evidence is against them.  Here they are, 148 years after Charlie wrote his little black book, still trying to figure out “what is this thing called love?”  How long do you give a scientist time to scratch his head before the head is worn away entirely?  A decade perhaps?  Maybe two?  How many miles on the wrong road do you let a scientist take the wheel before demanding he ask for directions?
    2. In their view, nothing is good.  They cannot be allowed to call anything good, ethical, right, correct, moral or worthwhile, because those words are not in the Darwin Dictionary.  Don’t let them plagiarize Christian words; they need to be consistent and use their own.  St. Paul can write a lofty, elegant paean to agape in I Corinthians 13 because within the Christian world view, love is real.  In Darwinland, by contrast, love is an illusion, and with it, all descriptions of it are illusory as well.  They cannot speak of love as if it has some immaterial and immortal existence.  To them, it must be nothing more than a phantom produced by a certain configuration of neurotransmitters undergoing particular rearrangements in response to stimuli.  It is an artifact, an illusion, with no epistemic status.  We must slap their hands when they borrow Christian words.  We must laugh at them when they hug or weep.  We must take disinterested notes in our white lab coats when they are indignant over evil.  Only by forcing them to live in the prisons they have constructed for themselves can we offer them the possibility of repentance for what they have done to the greatest word in any language.
    3. Their view is the death of science.  The Darwinist materialists try to exempt themselves from the human race.  From their ivory towers in the air, they pontificate to the rest of us about what makes us tick.  Like gods in their own eyes, they know what is real, what is empirical, and what constitutes knowledge that is universal, necessary, timeless, and certain.  We need to unmask them and let them look in the mirror.  If humans are pawns of natural selection, then nothing is universal, necessary, timeless and certain.  Even if something in the world is universal, there is no way that a material object like a scientist could know that.  Science, therefore, under their own presuppositions, becomes impossible.  Yet, a critic counters, many atheists are doing good science, aren’t they?  Yes; but only by stealing from Christian presuppositions.  Stop the welfare and they will starve.
          It is a basic principle of logic (without which all reasoning is impossible) that any self-refuting proposition is necessarily false.  It is also axiomatic that a philosophy cannot be arbitrary or inconsistent, else one could prove anything.  Since Darwinist ontology, epistemology, and moral philosophy is self-refuting, it is necessarily false.  Since it is arbitrary and inconsistent, its postulates are incapable of logical proof, including the postulate that science can provide knowledge about the external world.  A Darwinist cannot reason within his own presuppositions.  He cannot, therefore, be a scientist.  He cannot know anything.  He cannot be sure that his sensory impressions correspond to reality.  His actions must be considered products of blind selective pressures.  As a mere product of selfish genes and memes that are using his body and brain to reproduce, he cannot claim to be interested in Truth, or to know it when he sees it.  Science is impossible in this world view.
    It is only by forcing these materialists to face the consequences of their presuppositions that we can offer them a life preserver, provided they drop their Darwinian millstone and embrace a Christian world view where love and science are real.  (They can only grab onto it if they have some trace of unseared conscience left.)
        Experience shows, unfortunately, that Darwinists are often incorrigible.  Forced into this logical corner, many of them do start acting consistent with Darwinian values: i.e., they go on the attack, resorting to conflict, competition, and survival of the fittest.  If you observe this behavior, you understand now what is happening.  Unable to reason their way out of their dilemma, they snap, snarl, and use all means to seize power and shut up their opponents.  So be prepared for a fight.  There is such a thing as a good fight.  One does not have to descend to the immoral tactics of the enemy, but should work to prevent the enemy from destroying himself and everyone else.  It’s the cop’s struggle against the sniper shooting victims at random.  Sometimes this kind of fight is the most loving act in the world.
        So, happy Valentine’s Day.  St. Valentine gave his life as a martyr.  He was an altruist.  He did the most un-Darwinian thing: he valued truth and love over passing on his genes.  He followed in the footsteps of Jesus, who said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Undoubtedly this happened to Valentinus because he confronted the dogmatists of his day and refused to bow to their false gods.  What the world needs now is love, tough love.  If you have it, show it.  Don’t allow destructive philosophies to wreak their havoc without a good fight.
    Recommended Reading:  C. S. Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength is as timely today as when he wrote it at the end of World War II.  Lewis’s complex story, interweaving numerous themes, cannot be adequately summarized in a few words; we hope this feeble attempt at describing one of the themes will interest those unfamiliar with it to read the novel in its entirety.  A modern, liberal couple begins with a selfish, shallow view of love and sexual relationships.  They find through a horrendous experience with a monstrous scientific institution that its overt materialism is really just a cover for a deeper evil.  When the deeper evil is revealed and overcome, their discovery of true agape love ends with another discovery: that eros, in its soulish context, is also real, rich, and beautiful. 
    Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryBible and TheologyPolitics and Ethics
    Cells Perform Nanomagic    02/13/2007  
    The cell is quicker than the eye of our best scientific instruments.  Biochemists and biophysicists are nearing closer to watching cellular magic tricks in real time but aren’t quite there yet.  They know it’s just a trick of the eye, but it sure is baffling how cellular machines pull off their most amazing feats.  Think, but don’t blink:
    1. Knot Wizardry:  Proteins needing a fold go into a private dressing room (05/05/2003).  The most glamorous and well-equipped room, the GroEL-GroES chaperone, helps the star emerge just right.  How it does this is as puzzling as watching a magician untie a Gordian knot under a kerchief.  There are thousands of wrong ways a protein could fold; how does the chaperone always perform the trick correctly?  Some of the bonds between domains (disulfide bridges) are a long way apart.  What brings them together, and what keeps the wrong bridges from forming?
          Some scientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, writing in PNAS,1 cheated and built the chaperone with one door open so they could peek inside.  They still couldn’t figure it out completely.  Something in the chaperone creates conditions that favor the correct “native” fold, but also fix the mistakes before the prima donna protein emerges.  Somehow they do this without any ATP energy cost.  “We conclude that folding in the GroEL-GroES cavity can favor the formation of a native-like topology, here involving the proper apposition of the two domains of TG [trypsinogen, the enzyme in the experiment]; but it also involves an ATP-independent conformational ‘editing’ of locally incorrect structures produced during the dwell time in the cis cavity.”
    2. Speed Solve:  Maybe you’ve watched a blindfolded man solve a Rubik’s cube in seconds and wondered how it was done.  You can imagine the bewilderment of German and Swiss scientists watching a protein fold in far less time.  Protein chains of hundreds of amino acids have to explore a vast space of possible folds yet arrive at the one correct fold, often in fractions of a second.  These scientists, writing in PNAS,2 used lasers to try to figure out in slo-mo how this happens.
          As with a Rubik’s cube, there are billions of ways a protein could fold incorrectly.  Parts of a nascent protein chain form loops in the process of solving the puzzle.  “Exponential kinetics observed on the 10 to 100-ns time scale [ns=nanosecond, a billionth of a second] are caused by diffusional processes involving large-scale motions that allow the polypeptide chain to explore the complete conformational space,” they said.  “The presence of local energy minima [e.g., loops] reduces the conformational space and accelerates the conformational search for energetically favorable local intrachain contacts.”  To catch these loops, they had to look fast.  “Complex kinetics of loop formation were observed on the 50- to 500-ps [picosecond] time scale,” they noted.  A picosecond is a trillionth of a second.  Good thing they had lasers that could flash up to a femtosecond (quadrillionth of a second), or it would all be a blur.
    3. Levitation:  With a feat better than defying gravity, “Cytochrome c oxidase catalyzes most of the biological oxygen consumption on Earth, a process responsible for energy supply in aerobic organisms,” wrote a Finnish team also publishing in PNAS.3  To do this trick, the enzyme has to go against the force.
          Scientists like to talk in dispassionate language, but they called this enzyme “remarkable,” so they must have liked the magic act.  “This remarkable membrane-bound enzyme also converts free energy from O2 reduction to an electrochemical proton gradient by functioning as a redox-linked proton pump,” they remarked about the remarkable.  The way this pump works has “remained elusive,” even though most of the structure has been known.  With special spectroscopic and electrometric techniques, they were able to observe the trick in real time.  Abracadabra led to eureka: “The observed kinetics establish the long-sought reaction sequence of the proton pump mechanism and describe some of its thermodynamic properties.”  OK, tell us.  What’s the secret?
      The 10-microsecond electron transfer to heme [iron complex] a raises the pKa of a “pump site,” which is loaded by a proton from the inside of the membrane in 150 microseconds.  This loading increases the redox potentials of both hemes a and a3, which allows electron equilibration between them at the same rate.  Then, in 0.8 ms, another proton is transferred from the inside to the heme a3/CuB center, and the electron is transferred to CuBFinally, in 2.6 ms, the preloaded proton is released from the pump site to the opposite side of the membrane.
      So, there.  Now you know the trick.  Uh, how’s that again?  Actually, they only figured out part of the trick; “some important details remain unsolved,” they confessed, “e.g., the identity of the proton-accepting pump site above the hemes.”  Their diagram of the enzyme looks for all the world like magician’s tightly-cupped hands, with the active site secreted within.  Maybe this could be dubbed sleight-of-enzyme.
    In the introduction to this last paper, the authors described how the enzyme is essential to all life.  It is a key player in the transfer of electrons and protons that feed the ATP synthase motors that produce ATP – the universal energy currency for all living things.  Water is produced in the process that generates oxygen (in plants) and consumes it (in animals).  These reactions would not occur without the machinery to drive them against the physical forces of diffusion.
        The scientists are converging on a mechanical description of how the pumping action works.  “Each of the four electron transfer steps in the catalytic cycle of CcO [cytochrome c oxidase] constitutes one cycle of the proton pump, which is likely to occur by essentially the same mechanism each time,“ they said.  “Here, we report on the internal electron transfer and charge translocation kinetics of one such cycle, which is set forth by fast photoinjection of a single electron into the oxidized enzyme.”
    1Eun Sun Park, Wayne A. Fenton, and Arthur L. Horwich, “Disulfide formation as a probe of folding in GroEL-GroES reveals correct formation of long-range bonds and editing of incorrect short-range ones,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0610989104, published online before print February 5, 2007.
    2Fierz, Satzger et al, “Loop formation in unfolded polypeptide chains on the picoseconds to microseconds time scale,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0611087104, published online before print February 6, 2007.
    3Belevich et al, “Exploring the proton pump mechanism of cytochrome c oxidase in real time,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0608794104, published online before print February 9, 2007.
    We may not be able to tell how it’s done, but we all know that a stage magic trick is just an illusion.  But a good trick doesn’t just happen, either.  It takes a lot of intelligent design to put on a good show.  Split-second timing, carefully engineered props, trained assistants, planning, and precise manipulation are all required.  If and when we figure out all the cell’s tricks, it should produce even more awe than a childish belief in magic.  It should produce a deeper respect for the planning and execution of a well-designed show – and a hearty round of applause.
        Need we say how disappointing it was for Nature to submit this Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week about the same time as this last paper appeared: “The invention of oxygenic photosynthesis was a small step for a bacterium, but a giant leap for biology and geochemistry.  So when and how did cells first learn to split water to make oxygen gas?” (John F. Allen and William Martin, “Evolutionary biology: Out of thin air,”  Nature 445, 610-612, 8 February 2007).  Shamelessly, they continued on and on: “Biologists agree that cyanobacteria invented the art of making oxygen, but when and how this came about remain uncertain.”
        It appears that some childish scientists still believe in magic.  We hope the growing brightness of design emerging from cell biology will not cause too much pain as it shatters their illusions.  If they maintain their illusions in spite of the evidence, though – well, willful blindness is its own punishment.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
      To Coyne a phrase, evolutionists are still writing the origin of species; from 07/30/2004.

    Fossil Fish Meat Pushes Idea of Early Complexity    02/12/2007  
    An article in National Geographic News today has a title to catch the eye (or nose) of seafood lovers: “Fossil Meat Found in 380-Million-Year-Old Fish.”  Knowing how quickly fish spoils if left out, this might strike a reader as surprising.  Sure enough, fossilized muscle, with “bundles of muscle cells, blood vessels, and nerve cells” clearly visible, has been found in western Australia.1
        This placoderm, an extinct kind of armored fish, was found in the same formation as Gogonasus, another placoderm reported last year in Nature and judged to be an ancestor of tetrapods (see 10/20/2006).  Once again, a placoderm fossil from this vicinity is claimed to “shed light” on evolution.  The article quickly left the soft-tissue evidence behind and concentrated on where placoderms fit into evolutionary story of fish and land animals.
        Two things are surprising the researchers about this fossil: (1) the soft tissue preservation, and (2) its “many features resembling those found on modern land animals.”  The article says that most of vertebrate evolution appeared early on, that we need to get over misconceptions of slow and gradual development.  John Long, the lead who reported the Gogonasus fossil last October, explained:

    Most people have the “Hollywood view of evolution,” in which a fish morphs into an amphibian, followed by a reptile, then a mammal, then a primate, and finally a human, he [John Long, Museum Victoria] said.
        “But when we look at the Gogo fish, we see that so much of the human body plan is pushed back into the fishes.  So that the origin of all our anatomical systems—90 percent of it—happened within fishes,” he said.
        “After the fishes left the sea and invaded the land, the rest was really fine-tuning of an existing pattern.
    He left it to the reader’s imagination how all the complexity arose in the placoderm’s ancestors.
    1The article did not make it clear if the material was entirely lithified: i.e., replaced by minerals.  To see blood vessels and individual cells would seem to indicate otherwise.
    We need to learn if the soft tissue really is still soft, original tissue.  If mineralized, it is astonishing to have such detailed preservation in something so old in the evolutionary geological timetable.  If unmineralized, it is super-astonishing.  This makes the 70-mya soft tissue in the T. rex (11/11/2006, 03/24/2005) look positively recent by comparison.
        The title and body of this article illustrate again the incorrigibility of evolutionists.  (Despite Long’s rebuke, most evolutionists themselves have a Hollywood view of evolution.)  Can they really expect reasonable people to accept their claim that this fossilized muscle is 380 million years old?  You can’t keep fish meat in the frig for more than a couple of weeks, under ideal conditions, without it putrefying.  Yet this sample has intact blood vessels and cells.  This should be a bombshell.
        Just when the Darwinist army is decimated and pounded to a pulp by a superior force of evidence, they rally around the Charlie standard and chant “Death to the creationist imbeciles!”  No upset is great enough to make them leave the field and admit defeat.  Valor is a good thing, but without discretion, it is lacking its better part.
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyFossilsEvolution
    Darwin Day Gift Ideas   02/12/2007    
    Need ideas for that special someone on your shopping list?  With Darwin Day upon us (Feb. 12), it’s not too late to find the gift that’s just right for the occasion.  See our Top Ten list below.
    Top Ten Darwin Day Gift Ideas
    1. A blindfolded Tinker Bell doll (01/13/2006), or a Tinker Toy Set with a hammer.
    2. Framed picture of Haeckel’s embryos (02/08/2007) and the updated version (CMI).
    3. The Cambrian Explosion (a toy grenade with animals that pop out fully formed).
    4. For a disliked person, this gag gift: a Truth in Science information pack (01/11/2007, bullet 6; 11/27/2006).
    5. An amber necklace containing bacteria that haven’t evolved at all in 220 million years (12/13/2006, bullet 6).
    6. Golf balls that wobble at random (01/09/2007).
    7. A Charlie statuette that looks like Buddha.  The deluxe edition includes a niche with bamboozle curtains (11/27/2006 commentary).
    8. A glider parachute (see story on National Geographic) to help your friend evolve on the way down (12/13/2006, bullet 6).
    9. A human-cow chimera (11/29/2006) that can milk itself.
    10. For that special person, a radiation belt to induce beneficial mutations (12/14/2006).
    Remember also that you can find stimulating games and activities for your Darwin Day party right here.  See the 12/09/2006 and 02/13/2004 commentaries for details.
        If you think silly game suggestions are just a satire, you need to read this essential article by John West posted for Darwin Day on National Review Online.  Another good article by Anika Smith can be found on Falcon Online.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolution Theory
    Evolution Sunday Honors Darwin Over God   02/11/2007    
    An essay by Edna Devore of the SETI Institute on Space.com encourages churches to join in Mike Zimmerman’s “Evolution Sunday” celebrations.  Zimmerman, with his Clergy Letter Project (see also New Scientist), has gotten over 10,000 pastors to sign a statement affirming evolution as an essential part of science and religion (02/11/2006).  Devore thinks this is a wonderful opportunity for scientists and people of faith to join in dialogue.1
        Devore’s advertisement, dripping with praise for Charles Darwin but without a single mention of God, includes this paragraph about why the SETI Institute is promoting Evolution Sunday:
    Why is SETI Institute concerned with Darwin and evolution?  Understanding the evolution of the universe—galaxies, stars, planets, and life—is at the heart of our research.  In Darwin’s autobiography he states, “Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.”  Discovering these “fixed laws” that govern the origin, nature and distribution of life is the core mission of the SETI Institute, and exploring change over time is the powerful theme that unifies all of our work, from laboratory to classroom.  The work of our scientists working on the NASA Astrobiology Institute research team focuses on the co-evolution of life and its planetary context, in projects that range from studies of life’s emergence on early Earth to the habitability of planets orbiting relatively cool M-stars.  This project will directly impact the Institute’s search for evidence of life that, like us, is sufficiently complex to reflect upon its own origins.  The evolution of complexity and intelligence is a challenging research area, but one that can be probed scientifically, and Institute research seeks to tease important insights out of both the fossil record and animal communication systems.  Darwin would no doubt be fascinated!
    Regarding “fixed laws” in biology, however, an essay in Nature this week questioned whether biology has any laws in the sense that physics employs.2   In “A battle of two cultures,” Evelyn Keller argued from philosophy and history that physics and biology cannot be compared on the basis of scientific laws:
    How appropriate is it to look for all-encompassing laws to describe the properties of biological systems?  By its very nature, life is both contingent and particular, each organism the product of eons of tinkering, of building on what had accumulated over the course of a particular evolutionary trajectory.  Of course, the laws of physics and chemistry are crucial.  But, beyond such laws, biological generalizations (with the possible exception of natural selection) may need to be provisional because of evolution, and because of the historical contingencies on which both the emergence of life and its elaboration depended.
        Perhaps it is time to face the issues head on, and ask just when it is useful to simplify, to generalize, to search for unifying principles, and when it is not.
    Keller did not elaborate on why she thought natural selection could possibly be exempted from the provisional nature of biology.  She ended by stating that the influx of physical scientists into the emerging discipline of “systems biology” will require some guidelines – maybe even abandoning the their “traditional holy grail of universal ‘laws’.”
        That debate aside, Edna Devore ended with the all-encompassing questions any worldview must ask.  But strangely, for someone asking churches to come on board, she said nothing about how God might be at least a partial source of information.  No; the only personages to look to for answers, according to Devore, are: self, and Charles Darwin.
    What might be found can best be understood from a basis of self-knowledge.  Where did we come from?  Where are we going?  What else is out there, and how did it evolve?  What will we become?  Big questions to ponder on the birthday of a man who helped us shape them.

    1Zimmerman calls it “Evolution Sunday” instead of “Darwin Sunday” because he claims only creationists refer to evolutionary theory as “Darwinism.”  Why he chose his special day to fall on the Sunday before Charles Darwin’s birthday he did not explain.  Devore seems to understand the centrality of Darwin to evolution; her short essay contains 18 references to Charles Darwin, but none to other evolutionary theorists.  Her essay begins with a quote from Darwin and ends with praise for “the man who helped us shape” the answers to life’s biggest questions.
    2Evelyn Fox Keller, “Connections: A clash of two cultures,” Nature 445, 603 (8 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/445603a.
    Devore’s essay is so silly and shallow and uninformed, it’s easy to dismiss it as complete poppycock.  But Christians should be merciful, so let’s meet her halfway, and suggest ways we might make Evolution Sunday a meaningful occasion.  Here is a suggested Order of Worship for Evolution Sunday:
    • Begin with a moment of silence for the 148 million who died under the regimes Darwin’s philosophy inspired (11/30/2005).
    • Scripture Reading: Psalm 1 (the danger of walking in the counsel of the ungodly, instead of delighting in the law of the Lord).
    • Opening hymn: This Is My Father’s World.
    • Sunday School Lesson: the art of Baloney Detecting.
    • Testimonies: people who trusted their self-knowledge and ruined their lives till they got back to the Word of God, or who embraced evolutionism uncritically till they studied the evidence.
    • Prayer: each class prays for a communist country that is still trying to impose atheism, justifying it with Darwin’s theory.  Pray for the pastors and Christians being persecuted (see Persecution.com).  Also pray that social evils will end that are rationalized by evolution: abortion, embryonic stem cell killing, cloning.
    • Choir: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (02/09/2007).
    • Sermon: Matthew 7 (Sermon on the Mount) about building on the rock of Jesus’ word instead of the shifting sands of human opinion.  Give illustrations of the many ways evolutionary theory has shifted with each new falsifying evidence (e.g., 12/14/2004 and the 12/27/2006 commentary).  Describe how evolutionary ideas did not begin with Charles Darwin, but illustrate the Long War Against God.
      Option Two:  The contrast between Darwin’s Tree of Life (02/01/2007) and the Tree of Life described in Genesis and Revelation.  Key text: Proverbs 3:13-24.  Secondary text: Matthew 7:13-20 (a tree is known by its fruit).  Other references to “tree of life” can be found on BibleGateway.
    • Hymn: How Firm a Foundation, about God’s excellent Word.
    • Challenge: Every member gets a packet of materials to use in witnessing to Darwinists: a copy of ICR’s Acts and Facts newsletter with encouragement to get on the mailing list, a card listing URLs for creation websites (like this one), a package of gospel tracts aimed at flaws in evolutionary theory such as these from CMI, and a copy of the DVD The Case for a Creator.
    We hope Edna appreciates our attempts to help make Evolution Sunday a rich and meaningful opportunity to reflect on “the development of evolutionary theory from before Darwin to the present and the rich and complex historical interaction of evolution and Christianity.”
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionBible and TheologySETI
      Round 'em up!  Cellular cowboys rope the chromosome herd, from 03/04/2004.

    Enceladus Spray-Paints Its Neighbors’ Yards   02/10/2007    
    Saturn’s moon Enceladus is not only Yellowstone unto itself.  Its shares the National Park experience with its neighbors.  The geyser spray coats nearby moons white like snow.  Space.com and National Geographic are calling this a case of “cosmic graffiti.”  How did scientists catch the tagger?
        The original paper in Science describes how on 13 Jan. 2005, on a rare night when the Sun, Earth and Saturn were almost perfectly aligned, scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the “geometric albedo” of Saturn’s moons.  This is the brightness of a body at the moment the sun’s phase angle approaches zero.  The albedo of the 11 moons embedded in Saturn’s E-ring turned out to be much brighter than expected – by a factor of about 1.5.  The only way they could explain this is by hypothesizing that the ice particles ejected by Enceladus (07/11/2006) are sandblasting the nearby moons and coating them with a whitewash of ice.  The bodies affected include the large moons Rhea and Dione as well as smaller ones Tethys, Mimas and others.
        The original paper said nothing about life, but National Geographic couldn’t resist.  “Enceladus’s geysers have made the moon a hot spot for astronomers looking for signs of life in space,” the article said.  “If the geysers are drawing from pockets of water below the moon’s surface, as some theories suggest, those reservoirs could harbor an intriguing variety of primitive life-forms much like those found in Earth’s deep-ocean hydrothermal vents.”  One of the scientists cautioned against speculation, though, saying that we don’t yet understand the nature of the geysers.
        Saturn is nicely placed in the sky right now, according to a JPL press release.  At opposition (opposite the sun from Earth), it’s high in the sky all night till April, and the rings are nearly wide open.  Many people have remembered their first view of Saturn through a telescope as a thrilling experience.  Some astronomers made their career choice because of it.


    1Anne Verbiscer, Richard French, Mark Showalter, Paul Helfenstein, “Enceladus: Cosmic Graffiti Artist Caught in the Act,” Science, 9 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5813, p. 815, DOI: 10.1126/science.1134681.
    How long could this spray-painting be going on?  Is it plausible that Enceladus has been doing this for 4.5 billion years?  If not, why is it doing it now?  This is the question nobody seems to be asking.
    Next headline on:  Solar System
    Bug Tech:  It would be hard to add anything to David Tyler’s news analysis about moth gyroscopes at Access Research Network.  Check out this interesting design story.

    Highlights from Biblical Archaeology News    02/09/2007  
    As an intelligent-design science, archaeology continues to interpret the actions of human intelligence from the observation of physical artifacts.  Here are some recent stories bearing on Bible history and archaeology.

    1. Battle of the AgesScience had a special section on Jerusalem archaeology in the Feb 2 issue.  Andrew Lawler1 critiqued the spectacular claim that the palace of David and Solomon has been discovered in the City of David (south of modern Jerusalem).  The series included sidebars about the lead archaeologist of the site, Eilat Mazar,2 who accepts the Biblical chronology, and her ideological opponent Israel Finkelstein,3 a leader of the “minimalist” school that sees the early kings as mere legends.
          Lawler concedes Finkelstein’s views have made him a “lightning rod” and “bad boy” to other, more conservative, archaeologists.  Finkelstein himself admitted he has a “big mouth” that tends to get him in trouble.  Critics say he “requires his detractors to carry the burden of proof” and that he “resorts to bellicose rhetoric.”
          At the City of David, Eilat Mazar wrapped up a second season of digging on “what could be the most significant archaeological find in Jerusalem’s history: the palace of the king who, according to biblical texts, united the ancient Israelites.”  She denies charges that her conservative views influence her scientific interpretations.  The most interesting part of the discovery is a large building, covering as much as 2000 square meters, that she claims dates from the time of King David.  Much of the controversy is about the dating of the building that sits above the impressive Stepped-Stone Structure on the eastern slope, 37 meters high, portions of which have been dated to before the time of David.
          Imprecision in dating methods fuels the controversy over this major find.  Dates before the Assyrian king Sennacherib (701 BC) are not considered firm.  Mazar’s dates are based on pottery (usually pretty reliable).  Radiocarbon dates are just imprecise enough to allow advocates of any date to rationalize their claims.  Lawler ended with hopes that refinements and more samples will “shed more light--and generate less heat--on Jerusalem’s Iron Age predecessor.”  He quoted Ayelat Gilboa (Haifa U), who works on a radiocarbon team, who believes better dating may lead to “a new and more vigorous biblical archaeology” that uses the Bible as a guide once again.
    2. Tunnel Vision:  Further down the City of David slope to the south, tunneling has exposed a large cardo (street) that experts think went all the way from the Siloam Pool to the Temple Mount in Roman times.  Todd Bolen’s interesting BiblePlaces Blog 02/02/2007 and 01/15/2007 describes the excavations with pictures.  The real Siloam Pool of Jesus’ day was discovered by accident a few years ago.  Now this street heading north indicates that it was part of a large Roman complex.  It could be the very path the blind man took when Jesus told him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9).
    3. Ramping Up:  The rickety wooden ramp to the west side of the Temple Mount is being replaced (see BiblePlaces Blog).  Anything this close to the most sacred site of the Jews and one of the three most sacred sites of the Muslims is bound to stir up trouble, and it did; a riot erupted today (Feb. 9), reported MyWay.com, with hundreds of angry Muslims fighting Israeli police in the Old City.  Paleojudaica is keeping a daily tab on the activity and the Washington Post also has a report and background information.  Sympathy protests took place in Nazareth and Damascus.  There were fears the violence could spread to the West Bank and Gaza.  The fact that the Temple Mount itself was not under any threat is prompting some, however, to interpret the ramp excavation as a pretext for a few Muslim activists in Jerusalem to gain publicity.  Some Palestinians are threatening a new intifada if the work by the Israeli Antiquities Authority continues, “even though the work, at the Western Wall plaza, is not taking place on the Mount and poses no threat to the holy site,” according to World Net Daily.  The Muslims fear that excavations required before any new construction may turn up artifacts Jews will use as evidence of Jewish presence in Jerusalem in Biblical times, especially their sacred Temple.  Only Muslims deny the existence of the Jewish Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock.  An article on National Geographic News discusses the skirmish over the ramp, and also details about the Siloam Pool excavations at the south end of the old City of David.  Palestinians are condemning those excavations as well even though they are far from the Temple Mount.  Archaeologists are finding a large complex with the main street of Jerusalem from the second temple period.
          Previous excavation work on the western and southern sides of the Temple Mount has already shed much light on the Roman and Judahite periods despite repeated instances of violence.  The public now has access from the Jewish Quarter to attractive archaeological parks that display and explain the discoveries.  These parks do not discriminate against visitors.  Friendly signs that are not partial to Jewish interests explain all the relevant periods and civilizations involved, including the Muslim and Turkish periods.
          Muslims, however, have a free rein on the Mount while denying access by Jews to their holiest site of all.  They deny clear archaeological evidence of Jewish civilization on the site from Biblical times.  Israel goes overboard to cater to the Muslims.  The Israeli government, for instance, is allowing construction of a new minaret on the Temple Mount, another WND article reports, even though four minarets already exist there and construction of a fifth and taller one is offensive to most Jews.  Five times a day Jews endure Muslim calls to prayer from loudspeaker-equipped minarets.  Yet with reckless disregard for the sensibilities of their Jewish neighbors, Muslims have done massive illegal digging at the south end of the Temple Mount in order to build a huge new underground mosque in addition to the Al Aqsa Mosque already there.  While making the Temple Mount a Muslim-only park, they purposely try to eradicate all historical evidence of Jewish presence.  Piles of artifact-laden debris sit inside the Mount.  Much of it has been recklessly tossed over the wall.  Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay has sifted through some of the rubble and found artifacts dating from the first temple period (10/31/2006), crucial evidence for establishing Jewish claims to the site (see pictures and descriptions at Bible Places Blog).
          The Muslim Waqf police control all access to the Mount and forbid any Jewish archaeology there under threats of violence.  Eilat Mazar and Gabriel Barkay are among Jewish archaeologists protesting the double standard and betrayal of the Jews’ archaeological heritage by their own government.  Additional news and remarks can be found on Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post.  See also this Jerusalem Post editorial link found on the news site of the Biblical Archaeology Society.  Barkay, incidentally, is on a lecture tour in the US; see Bible Places Blog for schedule.
    4. Canaanite SpellNational Geographic News was among several sources carrying the story of an ancient Semitic text just deciphered in an Egyptian tomb.  Translated into Egyptian hieroglyphs, the text was a prayer to the snake god for protection.  Dating from 2400 to 3000 BC, this is the oldest example of a proto-Canaanite language, a predecessor of Hebrew.  Apparently Egyptians sought the help of magicians from Byblos (in modern Lebanon) for incantations to protect from snake bite.  The inscription was known since the 19th century but was only recognized recently to be a transliteration of Semitic words into Egyptian characters.
          The significance of the find is that it shows written language and commerce existed before the time of Abraham.  (Early critics had doubted that Moses, half a millennium later than the patriarchs, could have used written language.)  “This is a discovery of utmost importance,” Moshe Bar-Asher [Hebrew U] said.  “Almost all the words found [in these texts] are also found in the Bible.”  Richard Steiner [Yeshiva U, NY] added, “It’s not as different from biblical Hebrew as some people might have expected.  A lot of the characteristics of Hebrew that we know from the Bible are already present in these texts.”  Scholars are expecting that the find may even shed light on the pronunciation of Egyptian words.
    5. Flood Flash:  Want to see what it’s like to be caught in a flash flood in the dry, barren desert of Israel?  Watch this homemade video for a shaky experience.  Israel’s many dry washes (wadis) can become torrents of rapid erosion under the right circumstances.  This one looks like it occurred in the Paran Wilderness near Timnah.  Biblical poets and prophets like Habakkuk were well acquainted with the power of torrential rains.
    6. Paul’s Last Good Fight:  Have the bones of St. Paul been discovered?  Todd Bolen thinks it’s within reason to believe so (see Bible Places Blog).  This story goes back a couple of months, but excavations at the cathedral of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome have uncovered a sarcophagus that scholars think could store the bones of Paul the Apostle (see also National Geographic News).  According to tradition, Paul was beheaded by Nero shortly after writing a final letter to his apprentice Timothy, saying, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4).  If the authorities allow the sarcophagus to be opened, it will be interesting to see if the skeleton shows signs of beheading.  This elaborate church has long been considered the site where Paul was martyred.  A former Pharisee, Paul traveled thousands of miles over Europe and Asia, enduring all kinds of hardships, including stonings, beatings and shipwrecks, proclaiming, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1).
    Another story worth watching is about the search for oil under Israel.  World Net Daily reported that chances are good that oil will be found.  It has been carrying ads for initial public offerings for Zion Oil and Gas, a startup looking to dig for oil in the Holy Land.  It opened on the American Stock Exchange on January 3.  If successful, it might make Israel energy independent and alter the dynamics of near Eastern politics.
    1Andrew Lawler, “Judging Jerusalem,” Science, 2 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5812, pp. 588 - 591, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5812.588.
    2Andrew Lawler, “All in the Family,” Science, 2 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5812, p. 590, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5812.590.
    3Andrew Lawler, “Holy Land Prophet or Enfant Terrible?”, Science, 2 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5812, p. 591, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5812.591.
    Paul wrote, a few verses later, that the unbeliever has no excuse for denying God, because of the infallible witness of creation (Rom 1:18-22).  He used this argument when speaking to the people of Lystra (Acts 14) and to the philosophers in Athens on Mars Hill (Acts 17).  The argument is still powerful today.  To the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles, Paul also frequently pointed to the authority of the Scriptures.
        If it weren’t for Muslim threats of violence, Biblical archaeology would be in a wonderful renaissance right now.  New scientific techniques and technologies hold promise for more rapid discovery and analysis of data.  Brave investigators in the 1800s revived the study of Palestine and began uncovering amazing things, but that was before photography, computers, radiocarbon, radar, aerial reconnaissance, rapid transportation and all the tools we have available now.  Photography arrived in the late 1800s.  Biblical archaeology began in earnest in the early 20th century, and indeed was the testbed for the science of archaeology in general.  The clumsy early techniques are now refined and standardized.  Tremendously interesting digs are going on now (dig this blog, but after a century of work, only a tiny fraction of historical sites have been explored.  Some claim only 1% of Biblical sites have been investigated, and of those, only a small fraction have been thoroughly excavated.  What wonders remain under millennia of soil!
        Though much remains to be learned, the well-studied sites are remarkable.  You can stand in the synagogue at Capernaum, where basalt stones still stand from the building in which Jesus taught and healed a demoniac.  From there you can walk a short distance to the remains of Peter’s house, where Jesus healed Peter’s mother.  To the west a few miles away is a first-century fishing boat, found a few years ago, of the type the disciples used.  The uninhabited remains of Bethsaida and Chorazin, cursed by Jesus for their unbelief, are nearby.  Up north in Dan, you can stand on the platform where the apostate King Jeroboam erected a golden calf, then walk to an arched mudbrick gate through which Abraham could have passed.  A short distance farther down the trail are the iron-age walls and city gates where kings and prophets of Israel walked.
        At the ruins of Jezreel, Gibeah, Megiddo, Hazor, Arad, Beth-Shemesh, Timnah and numerous other sites are ruins dating from Biblical times that correspond to the way they are described in the Scriptures.  You can go to the British Museum and see Sennacherib’s magnificent relief of his destruction of Lachish, and a few paces away see his stele describing Hezekiah in Jerusalem; then you can travel to Lachish and see the ruins intact.  Another stele in the British Museum shows the Israelite king Jehu.  The Moabite Stone describes Biblical kings from the time of Ahab.  Jerusalem itself is a treasure trove of places and artifacts, like Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Broad Wall, and much more from the time of Christ to Canaanite times a thousand years earlier.
        It should not be surprising that occasionally there are difficulties with dating and evidence.  The Holy Land has been the scene of many major wars and destructions for 5,000 years; in a way, it is surprising there is so much left.  Before assuming the Bible is in error, it is good to remember what happened to previous criticisms.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  The Hittites, for instance, were unknown outside the Bible till their flourishing civilization was discovered.  The traditional site of Ai did not seem to match the Biblical battle, but new excavations at a neighboring site show a better fit to the geographical details described in Joshua 8.  Sometimes a third look is necessary.  Early excitement about Jericho’s walls matching the account in Joshua, as excavated by Garstang, were deflated by Kathleen Kenyon when her team decided the destruction layer was too early for Joshua’s time.  Now, however, evidence is emerging that Kenyon’s methods were flawed and biased.  A destruction layer fitting the Joshua story, including a house on the wall matching the description of Rahab’s house (on a part of the wall that did not fall), fit the story well when the pottery-based dating is corrected.  This gives renewed confidence that the Biblical record is reliable when all the evidence is in.
        The news stories reported above demonstrate that Biblical dating by archaeology is imprecise and controversial.  Nothing has been found that rules out this historicity of the Bible, and much has been found that corroborates it.  A book with that good a track record needs to be taken seriously.  Consider also the internal evidence.  The Bible (unlike other religious texts) reads like a narrative by eyewitnesses and historians.  Read Joshua 12-22, for example; the attention to detail is staggering: place names, kings, countries, cities, villages, towns, directions and persons are all recorded.  Such detail does not fit the stereotype of wandering tribes passing along oral tradition, or priests fabricating their social history centuries after the fact.  In some cases, only contemporaries could have known idioms of the day that are preserved in the text.
        The processes by which our modern copies of the Bible came to be do not rule out the use of some oral and external sources, later compilation, insertion of editorial comments, and even occasional scribal errors (none of which affect major doctrines).  The Bible has better textual support and internal and archaeological evidence corroborating its authenticity and reliability than any other ancient text.  Scholars would have to throw out Herodotus, Thucydides and other reputable sources under the same criteria by which some skeptics distrust the Bible.  Remember, too, that Jews and Christians were extremely careful handling what they believed to be the inspired Word of God.  Consider that the Dead Sea Scrolls show near-perfect correspondence with the Masoretic Text a thousand years later.  This was an astonishing confirmation of the reliability of transmission that has come to light just since 1948.  Believers add the proposition that a God able to communicate His Word is able to preserve it.
        Inscriptions, though rare in Palestine, fit the Bible: e.g., Pilate’s name at Caesarea, the Hezekiah Tunnel inscription, the Lachish letters.  More recent finds continue to illuminate the Bible as trustworthy history.  This include the Tel Dan inscription corroborating the existence of a dynasty of David, a seal of a royal official mentioned in the Bible at Megiddo, the silver scrolls of Ketef Hinnom (the earliest Scriptural fragment, 700 BC) proving the Iron-Age familiarity with the Levitical priestly blessing, Barkay’s discovery last year of a clay seal with the name of a Biblical character from Jeremiah (10/31/2006), jar handles stamped with Hezekiah’s royal seal (and a pottery fragment with a possible sketch of the king himself) at Ramat Rahel south of Jerusalem (08/20/2006, and a pottery shard etched with a name resembling Goliath found late 2005 (11/11/2005) at the site of the Biblical giant’s home town, Gath.  We could expect many more if archaeologists were unhindered by political stresses and threats of violence.  Many of the most promising sites, unfortunately, are off limits in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank.  Where is the scientific community in protest?  Where is the United Nations to demand fair access to these important sites that could so enrich our understanding of the Bible and the foundations of Western civilization?
        We can only hope that more tantalizing tidbits will continue to surface during intervals of peace in the Middle East.  (Iraq, by the way, is another vast landscape filled with archaeological treasures.  We should work to ensure they do not fall to another closed dictatorship.)  In the meantime, you can hold in your hand a book unlike any other.  The Bible invites scrutiny!  No other ancient or religious text has this much detail that can be cross-checked.  You don’t need archaeology to enjoy the Bible and profit from its message.   But for those who appreciate the value of building their views on a solid foundation within a well-rounded and informed context, these are the best times to weigh the evidence.  Online resources like Bible Places and Todd Bolen’s excellent BiblePlaces Blog can bring you the latest news.  Get a copy of the new Archaeological Study Bible, a set of maps and a Bible dictionary.  Embark on an adventure of science, intelligent design, history, faith and contemplation that will do your soul good.
    Next headline on:  Bible and TheologyDating MethodsPolitics and Ethics
    Editorial:  Professor of design at Bristol University Stuart Burgess goes “against the grain” about intelligent design in The Independent.  He ends, “it’s not science to rule something out because you don’t like the implications.”

    Music Out of Range of Darwin’s Instrument    02/09/2007  
    In Science this week,1 Michael Balter reported on a Montreal meeting of the Brain, Music and Sound Research Center (BRAMS).  The center is gaining attention for its renewed interest in the biology of music, and why human beings are so good at this skill with its dubious survival value.  The topic came up about how music might have evolved.  Balter reported about his conversation with Isabelle Peretz, a neuropsychologist at the University of Montreal and co-director of BRAMS.

    Yet whereas work on musical learning is showing progress, “music remains a mystery,” Peretz says.  “The biggest question is what it is for.”  Researchers have suggested many scenarios for why musical abilities might have evolved, such as enhancement of social solidarity and increasing communication between mothers and children (Science, 12 November 2004, p.  1120).  But Peretz is cautious about such speculations.  Although she has long argued against claims by researchers such as Harvard University cognitive scientist Steven Pinker that music is just “auditory cheesecake” with no adaptive function, she conceded in a recent review in Cognition that most hypotheses about music’s role in human evolution are inherently untestable.  “I believe that music is in our genes, but belief is not science”--more evidence is needed, she says.
    See also the 03/07/2002 and 12/09/2004 entries on music and evolutionary theory.  A new, detailed article by a medical doctor on the intricate design and construction of the human ear can be found on Apologetics Press.
    1Michael Balter, “Study of Music and the Mind Hits a High Note in Montreal,” Science 9 February 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5813, pp. 758 - 759, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5813.758.
    A scientist gets a little closer to singing on pitch (compare 11/12/2004).  Hallelujah.
    Next headline on:  Human BodyEarly Man
      Geological layers: not slow time sequences, but fractals.  See 03/05/2004.

    Haeckel Given Soft Gloves in Nature    02/08/2007  
    How should a scientist’s career be evaluated if he was a known fraud?  How also if he promoted views that fanned the flames of racism and genocide?  Here’s what Philip Ball said about Ernst Haeckel in Nature:1

    Reckoned to have been instrumental to the introduction of darwinism to Germany, Haeckel has also inspired generations of scientists with his stunning drawings of the natural world....
    Ball is reviewing a new book on Haeckel by Olaf Breidbach, Visions of Nature: The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel (Prestel, 2006).2  But despite enjoying the beautiful drawings of radiolarians, antelopes and other things, did Ball have any comments about Haeckel’s well-known forgeries of embryos supposedly illustrating evolution?
    Few scientists of his time were more complicated.  He was the archetypal German Romantic, who toyed with the idea of becoming a landscape painter and venerated Goethe.  He promoted a kind of historical determinism, akin to that of the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, that sat uncomfortably with Darwin’s pragmatic rule of contingency.  Haeckel’s view of evolution was a search for order, systematization and hierarchy that would reveal far more logic and purpose in life than a mere struggle for survival.  His most famous scientific theory, the ‘biogenetic law’, which argued that organisms retrace evolutionary history as they develop from an egg (‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’), was an attempt to extract such a unifying scheme from the natural world.
        It can be argued that this kind of visionary mindset, with its strong preconceptions about how the world ought to be, does not serve science well.  Haeckel supplies a case study in the collision between Romanticism and science, and that tension is played out in his illustrated works.
    Still no mention of the word fraud in the embryo drawings.  Maybe a little euphemism and some mercy quotes will help as Ball also considers the more serious charges that Haeckel fueled the rise of Nazism:
    For example, historian Daniel Gasman3 and others have proposed that Ernst Haeckel’s influence on German culture at the turn of the century was pernicious in its promotion of a ‘scientific’ racist ideology that fed directly into Nazism.  However, Breidbach goes no further than to admit that Haeckel became a “biological chauvinist” during the First World War, and that “sometimes the tone of his writing was overtly racist”.  Breidbach admits that his book is not a biography as such, more an examination of Haeckel’s visual heritage.  Yet one could argue that Haeckel’s dark side was as much a natural consequence of his world view as was Art Forms in Nature.
        The claim that Haeckel doctored images to make them fit with his preconceived notions of biology is harder to ignore in this context.  He was even accused of this in his own time, particularly by his rival Wilhelm His, and to my eye the evidence looks pretty strong (see Nature 410, 144; doi:10.1038/35065834 2001 and Science 277, 1435; 1997).  But Breidbach skates over this issue, alluding to the allegations only to suggest that the illustrations “instructed the reader how to interpret the shapes of nature properly”.
    Now that Ball almost warmed up to the fraud word, can he excuse Breidbach’s euphemisms? 
    On the whole, Breidbach simply explains Haeckel’s reliance on image without assessing it.  Haeckel’s extraordinary drawings were not made to support his arguments about evolution and morphogenesis; rather, they actually were the arguments.  He believed that these truths should be apparent not by analysing the images in depth but simply by looking at them.  “Seeing was understanding,” as Breidbach writes.  But if that’s so, it places an immense burden of responsibility on the veracity of the images.
        This is the nub of the matter.  Breidbach suggests that Haeckel’s drawings are schematic and that, like any illustrator, Haeckel prepared them to emphasize what we are meant to see.  But of course, this means we see what Haeckel wants us to see.
    Ball continues his argument, saying that “whether he hid any nascent appendages that challenged his biogenetic law,” Haeckel’s propensity for exaggeration makes the value of his other drawings questionable.  The German advocate of darwinism was creating, in a sense, platonic forms loosely connected with reality.  At this point, Ball seems impatient with Breidbach’s euphemisms.  The book author excused the fabrications as images of “nature properly organized” and “the labour of the analyst was replaced by the fascination of the image.”  Ball adds, with sarcasm, “Absolutely – as ‘fascinate’ originally meant ‘bewitch’.”
        Ball further criticized Haeckel for using photography later only as a backup against charges of forgery.  He did not accept the excuse that aesthetic styles permit a scientific illustrator to gild the lily.  In the end, he felt that Breidbach’s book, despite its aesthetic appeal, should have dug deeper “into the problematic areas his subject raises.”
    1Philip Ball, “Painting the whole picture?”, Nature 445, 486-487 (1 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/445486a.
    2Breidbach is the director of the Ernst Haeckel Museum in Jena, and had access to all of Haeckel’s notes and sketchbooks.  Philip Ball was chagrined that Breidbach’s inadequate digging into the dark side of Haeckel represented “an opportunity missed.”
    3Note: Richard Weikart’s book From Darwin to Hitler is a much more reliable treatise on this subject than Gasman’s.  See the 02/03/2005 and 04/07/2005 entries.
    Philip Ball tiptoed into the problems without ignoring all of them completely.  He didn’t use the word fraud, and only put the word forgery into a quotation from the perpetrator excusing his deed.  He failed to mention that Haeckel’s “biogenetic law” is largely discredited today.  He didn’t respond to the ruckus creationists have been making for decades about what a dogmatic, racist, unreliable, lying Charlie-toady Ernst Haeckel was.
        Ball’s words were guarded and indirect, leaving some of the charges as hypotheticals, and putting the worst accusations into the mouths of others.  He should have demanded Haeckel be removed from all evolutionary discussions as an imposter, ideeologue, and fomenter of genocide.  Why would any self-respecting Darwinist want anything to do with this albatross?  At least he got after Breidbach for completely whitewashing the crook.  It’s doubtful Ball’s soft punches, though, will make Breidbach feel much remorse as he displays Haeckel’s art nouveau drawings with pride in his Jena museum, suggestive interpretations and all.  This new book should have received a scornful denunciation, as much as an apologetic treatment of Mein Kampf would.
        Incidentally, read the next entry and its links for proof that textbook writers are still using Haeckel’s fraudulent embryo drawings in high school textbooks.  This is a century after they were exposed by his contemporaries, and a decade after Nature itself re-exposed them as more fraudulent than previously thought (07/10/2001).
    Next headline on:  DarwinismPolitics and EthicsMedia
    Dodo Prey Fights Back   02/07/2007    
    Irked at falsehoods promulgated by Randy Olsen’s film Flock of Dodos, the intelligent design (ID) think tank Discovery Institute (DI) is fighting back.  The film presents a viewpoint that what ID lacks in science it makes up for in public relations.  The DI is convinced the reverse is true.  In an attempt to rebut what it claims are outright lies in the film, the institute opened a new web URL HoaxOfDodos.com that attempts to set the record straight.  It shows that Randy Olsen lied about textbooks not using Haeckel’s embryos as evidence for evolution.  And it shows that Olsen also inflated figures of the DI’s budget by 500%, making the false claim twice in the film.
        Also, in response to undying attacks that the DI had a secret “Wedge Document” that, when stolen, exposed a conspiracy to insert God back into public education (see a year-old story in the Seattle Times), the DI has published its response again on the site.  The response explains how “Darwinist paranoia fueled an urban legend.”  The internal fundraising memo (stolen by a copyist and posted on the internet) said nothing that was not already public information.  Nevertheless, conspiracy theories took off, especially in the hands of Barbara Forrest, a secular humanist, who brandished it as a call to arms for scientists against a perceived threat by religious zealots.  DI’s response prints the key parts of the alleged conspiratorial letter with explanatory (and often ironic) comments.  One example:
    The best and truest research can languish unread and unused unless it is properly publicized.
    It’s shocking but true—Discovery Institute actually promised to publicize the work of its scholars in the broader culture!  What’s more, it wanted to engage Darwinists in academic debates at colleges and universities!  We are happy to say that we still believe in vigorous and open discussion of our ideas, and we still do whatever we can to publicize the work of those we support.  So much for the “secret” part of our supposed ”conspiracy.”
    Hoax-of-Dodos also contains other articles defending the DI and its staff against smears in the media.
    We remind all that DODOs are evolutionary related to DINOs (see 10/29/2005 commentary).  The Wedge response ends with a final thought: “Don’t Darwinists have better ways to spend their time than inventing absurd conspiracy theories about their opponents?  The longer Darwinists persist in spinning such urban legends, the more likely it is that fair-minded people will begin to question whether Darwinists know what they are talking about.”  Compare the DI’s response to that of the Darwin Party in the next entry.
    Next headline on:  MediaIntelligent Design
    Turkana Boy Causes Museum Ruckus   02/07/2007    
    Christians want the boy arrested and locked up.  Scientists want to put him on stage.  The stage is Kenya’s National Museum, and the boy is Turkana boy, a fossil classified by evolutionists as Homo erectus and claimed to be 1.6 million years old.  CNN reported that the museum is showcasing the fossil, the most complete hominid skeleton ever found, for the first time.  It will take center stage of a new exhibit on the theme of evolution.
        The exhibit has caused protests from evangelical Christians in Kenya.  According to CNN, they have demanded the skeleton be relegated to a back room “along with some kind of notice saying evolution is not a fact but merely one of a number of theories.”  Bishop Boniface Adoyo, head of Kenya’s 35 evangelical denominations with 10 million constituents, protested that “I did not evolve from Turkana Boy or anything like it.  These sorts of silly views are killing our faith.”
        Evolutionists are responding with equally entrenched positions.  “Whether the bishop likes it or not, Turkana Boy is a distant relation of his,” retorted Richard Leakey, discoverer of “Lucy” and founder of the museum’s prehistory department.  “The bishop is descended from the apes and these fossils tell how he evolved.”
        The news item ends by claiming that the head of paleontology at the museum, Dr. Emma Mbua, is a Protestant who sees no problem with evolution.  “Evolution is a fact,” she said.  “Turkana Boy is our jewel.  For the first time, we will be taking him out of the strong room and showing our heritage to the world.”
        Nevertheless, concerns over security have made the museum take out millions of dollars of insurance on the exhibit and protect it with a glass screen, closed circuit TV and security guards.  The museum gets about 100,000 visitors a year.
        CNN says the museum renovation features additional hominid fossils and exhibits of extinct animals that “provide the clearest and unrivaled record yet of evolution and the origins of man,” according to unnamed scientists.  The $10.5 million renovation was paid for by the European Union.  By contrast, the entire Creation Museum being opened this year by Answers in Genesis, including property, buildings, and all exhibits, is $27 million.
    As usual, this story creates a false dichotomy between religion and science, between faith and knowledge.  We don’t have the complete story on Bishop Adoyo’s efforts, but have a suggestion on the way these sorts of disagreements should be handled.  Demanding that the exhibit be censored or relegated to a back room is counterproductive, because it reinforces the stereotype that Christians are afraid of hearing scientific evidence that contradicts their faith.
        The shoe is really on the other foot.  Evolutionists want no debate, no public hearing on the evidence.  They want to promote a very sanitized, visualized, propagandized version of their Myth of the Mystical Tree (see 02/01/2007).  Bones exist – that’s the truth part.  Yes, there are skeletons of odd-looking humans, elephants and giraffes that have gone the way of all the world.  What do they mean?  That’s where if you don’t have all the facts on display, you can be misled (e.g., 08/09/2005)..
        So let’s learn about Turkana Boy.  Actually, creationists have written up a lot about him and exposed some embarrassments the evolutionists aren’t telling you about.  Look, for instance, at the critiques of this fossil on CMI Creation Ministries Intl. (also this article), where you will learn that:
    1. The brain capacity of the skull is within the range of modern man.
    2. The height of the skeleton for its age is within the range of modern humans.
    3. This fossil shows that it is no longer possible to describe Homo erectus as a “large-brained pongid.”
    4. M. Wolpoff described the postcranium of this fossil as “mostly modern.”
    5. Wolpoff and Thorne cannot find any consistent anatomical markers which separate erectus from sapiens.
    6. The limb proportions resemble those of modern humans.
    7. The more robust bones of Homo erectus could be a reflection of routine heavy physical exertion than of primitive characteristics; if anything, thinner bones on modern humans seem a disadvantage.
    8. Opinions differ widely on the status of these and almost every other alleged human ancestor.
    Indeed, “To have such a tall erectus individual with a modern postcranium appear at such an early stage in the alleged evolutionary history of erectus is a problem for evolutionists,” CMI claims.  “If evolution was true, then a more intermediate postcranial skeleton would be expected, one reflecting more of a mid-way stage between the australopithecines and modern humans, not one already at the modern human stage.”
        On top of that, Apologetics Press quotes Ian Tatersall (an evolutionist) saying that “the whole classification of Homo erectus has become a kind of dumping ground for strange and out-of-place fossils.”  Jeffrey Schwartz made the same complaint in the 07/03/2004 entry, calling the designation “mythical.”  Some taxonomists split hairs over whether this skeleton should be classified in another mythical group, Homo ergaster, when there is really no reason other than evolutionary presuppositions to consider them non-human (see also this article from A.P. and the 01/01/2005 entry here).  Brain size is no guarantee of an evolutionary sequence (see 08/05/2006).  Need we also remind our readers how many bitter fights there have been between evolutionary paleoanthropologists themselves about human evolution (e.g., 12/21/2004, 09/23/2004, 03/28/2003, 04/27/2006, 06/14/2006).  These fights, though entertaining, don’t matter because human evolution has already been falsified anyway (08/22/2005, 12/30/2004).
        In other words, the evolutionists are hiding key parts of the story by exhibiting Turkana Boy as a primitive human ancestor.  They’re lying to the public!  A half truth can sometimes be more deceptive and dangerous than a big lie.  This is the basis on which Christians need to go on the offense with the Kenya museum charlatans.  They are spinning a myth around selective evidence.  We all have the same objective evidence to look at, but the evolutionists are avoiding the problems with their interpretations.  They are not being scientific (objective, rational, honest) about the issues!  This is an intellectual crime that deserves the approbation of the entire public, not just the evangelical Christians.
    To add insult to injury, Leakey committed a hate crime: “The bishop is descended from the apes,” he said.  How can Leakey, a white Englishman, get away with that kind of insult to a respectable African person of color?  Only against Christians is it possible to speak words of racism and bigotry.  But apart from that, let’s do a little logic here and turn Leakey’s statement back on himself.  Ask him, “Are you, Richard Leakey, a descendent of the apes too?”  He will have no choice but to answer yes.  Great; follow up with, “Then how can you know anything is true, including the proposition that you are descended from apes?
        Drive the point home, because he has no answer.  “In a worldview of constant change and evolution, how can you have any assurance that there are unchanging truths beyond matter in motion?  In a world where fitness and survival are the highest virtues (whatever ‘virtue’ means), how can you prove to me you are not lying so as to defeat me in the fitness race?  How can you be sure of anything, even science, without first justifying the philosophical belief that human rationality connects with experience?”
        So here’s our advice.  This is an important lesson for anyone having to deal with the Darwin propaganda, whether in museums, textbooks, or in the media.  Don’t whimper about how this exhibit is “killing our faith” (because that reinforces their stereotype about “people of faith” as opposed to “science”).  Don’t reinforce their prejudice that all criticisms of evolution are theologically motivated.  And obviously, don’t threaten violence (although there was no indication at all in the CNN article whether the fears of the museum staff were grounded in anything but their own guilty consciences).  Instead, appeal to the honesty and intellectual integrity of the scientists and museum staff.  Convince them that they are not being honest and scientifically sound to hide the incriminating evidence and alternative views on Turkana Boy.  Show them the quotes by Wolpoff and Tatersall and other evolutionists who dispute the views about this and other fossils.  Should only one view among evolutionists be presented, let alone the views of critics of evolution?  Why should this contrary scientific evidence be hidden from the public?  We don’t want to relegate Turkana Boy and other evidence to the back room; we want to bring all the evidence the evolutionists are hiding in the back room and take it up front into the light.  We want to make it part of the showcase!  Along with balanced evidence, let’s bring out a few more things from Darwin’s back room to put on display:
    • An exhibit on how Piltdown Man fooled the entire evolutionary scientific community for 40 years.
    • A wastebin filled with all the bones once thought to represent human ancestors.
    • A reminder of how evolutionists exhibited Ota Benga, an African pygmy, in a zoo.
    • A copy of Ernst Haeckl’s racist chart of how blacks were closer to Apes than to European whites.
    • A description of how the iconic “descent of man” chart perpetuates the myth of progress.
    • A list of cusswords that disagreeing paleoanthropologists have called each other.
    • A chart of the warring groups of paleoanthropologists and their tactics of ruining each other’s reputations.
    • An exhibit on the dark history of eugenics.
    • An illustration of all the massacres and genocides committed in the name of evolutionary racism: say, a pile of marbles with each marble representing a human life quenched by Darwinist dictatorships.  How high would a tower of 148 million marbles reach?
    For the kids, you could have replicas of modern human skulls from around the world and see if they can arrange them into an evolutionary sequence.  As a second exercise, see if they can sort them into human and non-human bins.  Throw in some skulls deformed by disease or post-burial stresses to trip them up.  After they are convinced they have an evolutionary tree, show them pictures of the modern people groups they represent.  Describe the languages, cultures and philosophies of the intelligent persons they just assumed were primitive ancestors.  As a third game, see if they can similarly organize garage tools or toy cars into an evolutionary phylogeny as a lesson on how similarities do not necessarily prove ancestral relationships.  For adults, how about some scholarly lectures on philosophy of science?  Questions could be discussed about the ability of finite human minds to interpret unseen past events, especially if human brains are assumed to be products of unguided material processes.  Describe how the same data can be reinterpreted in other ways without the Darwinian worldview.
        Left to themselves, the Darwinists will turn the Kenya museum into a whitewashed sepulcher, beautiful on the outside, but on the inside full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness of ideas.  Evangelicals should be in favor of turning on the lights and letting in fresh air.  Give the public all the facts and let them use their minds to decide who has the best case.  That’s fair.  That’s honest.  And that’s exactly what the evolutionists do NOT want (see 02/27/2006).  The Kenya museum should be a well-rounded, thought-provoking center of ideas and concepts on these important issues instead of a Darwinist shrine.  Help them out, evangelicals.  Get the dirty laundry on display instead of starched and bleached and ironed white shirts.  Tell them you want to teach more about Darwinism than the Darwinists dare to reveal.  If they resist, smile and remind them that honesty is the best policy.  Watch them squirm over that proverb.
        To pursue this kind of winning strategy will require study.  You have to research the facts and know the best arguments on both sides.  But in the end, it will pay off: it will demonstrate to all the world that the real censors, the real people of frothy faith, are the Mbuas and Leakeys and other dogmatists who shout “evolution is a fact!”  A little study of these pages will provide many examples of Darwin-worshippers trying to shove their religion down the throats of the public without debate.  The Master Strategist advised his followers, “Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  This implies that the other side is the converse.
    Next headline on:  Early ManEvolutionTheology
    Contingency and the Structure of Life’s Building Blocks    02/06/2007  
    Some Yale scientists found they could construct protein-like molecules using amino acids of a type not found in living things.  They found that beta-amino acids can fold into shapes similar to the proteins made of alpha-amino acids used in living things.  Beta-amino acids have an extra carbon on the backbone.  “Yale chemists show that nature could have used different protein building blocks,” reads the title.  One of the researchers said, “The structure we see is intriguing, as it suggests that natural proteins could have been composed of beta-amino acids, but were not chosen to do so.”  Who did the choosing was left unstated.
        Another press release from Howard Hughes Medical Institute argued that man-made proteins made of beta-amino acids might work as effective pharmaceuticals, because they would not be degraded by the enzymes in living cells.  The article mentions that cells actually synthesizes certain beta-amino acids but does not use them in protein construction.  The fact that cells have not avoided them entirely “raises a thorny biological question,” the press release says.  Why don’t beta-based proteins exist in living cells?  For now, the choice seems arbitrary.  Clearly, protein-like structures can be formed from them.  Jack Szostak of HHMI commented, “the implication is that biology uses its standard macromolecules not because they are uniquely suited to their tasks, but at least in part because of other considerations, such as ease of synthesis, or possibly historical accident.”
    This finding raises interesting questions in the philosophy of biology.  Some evolutionists have tried to claim that the environment forces life down certain pathways, making life as we know it nearly inevitable.  Here, though, there don’t seem to be any constraints against the use of the beta types.  In addition, there are many dozens of other types of amino acids not used by life.  Having amino acids of all one hand appears to confer an advantage.  Related studies have investigated whether DNA is the only feasible carrier for the genetic code.  (So far, DNA seems to have clear physical advantages over its competitors.)  But if the choice is between objects as similar as a Ford and a Chevrolet, why would a mindless material world stick with one brand all the time?
        Experiments like this are worthwhile to flesh out our conceptions of what is possible.  Do we live in the “best of all possible worlds” at the molecular level?  Or could eagles, giraffes and fish exist just as comfortably in a beta-amino-acid world?  Presumably so, if all the functions of a cell could be carried out as well with beta brand.  This would be a strike against the environmental determinists.  Though much remains to be understood, it appears that a “choice” was made to go with the alpha-amino acids.  The more that contingency is seen at the basic levels of life, the less probable are repeated appeals to “frozen accidents” and the more plausible it becomes that choices were made by a Designer. 
    Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignCell Biology
    Undeluded fun:  Explore logical and scientific reasons why educated people should not fall for the delusion that Richard Dawkins exists.  Listen on YouTube to a classic parody on Dawkins’ arguments against God.

    Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: What Thou Doest, Do Quickly    02/05/2007  
    This award should be for last week since the article on EurekAlert was dated Jan 29.  From a press release at Rice University, it begins:

    It’s a mystery why the speed and complexity of evolution appear to increase with time.  For example, the fossil record indicates that single-celled life first appeared about 3.5 billion years ago, and it then took about 2.5 billion more years for multi-cellular life to evolve.  That leaves just a billion years or so for the evolution of the diverse menagerie of plants, mammals, insects, birds and other species that populate the earth.
    It’s clear the author of that line was not asking if the speed and complexity of evolution increased, but why it did.  The article tries to make a rather logically incestuous point that evolution selects for faster evolvability (see 08/04/2004 entry and 10/04/2005 commentary).
        Later on in the article, a quote by Michael Deem implies that the whole complex human immune system was a simple mistake: “For example, we can trace the development of the adaptive immune system in humans and other jointed vertebrates to an HGT insertion1 about 400 million years ago.”  Elementary, my dear Michael. 
    1HGT = horizontal gene transfer.  Some other creature’s gene for immunity from some unknown source inserted itself into the line leading to man – so the story goes.  How that gene provided immune function is left as an exercise (for speculation).
    Evolution is the omniscient, omnipotent, inscrutable deity of the Darwinists.  At least Christians have a real God instead of a virtual one.  If you pray to a virtual deity, you only get a virtual answer.  Dictionary.com also indicates that virtual can mean: “Simulated; performing the functions of something that isn’t really there.  An imaginative child’s doll may be a virtual playmate.”  Interpretation: Darwinists are still playing with Tinker Bell dolls and should grow up.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryDumb Ideas
      Darwin acid eats literature, from 01/27/2006.

    First Euro-Stegosaur Found    02/04/2007  
    A Stegosaurus fossil has been found in Portugal, reported Live Science.  Previously this species with its spiked tail and prominent rows of plates on its back was only known from North America.  A tooth, some leg bones and part of the backbone have been unearthed.  So far, the fossil looks indistinguishable from its North American cousins.  The only other North American dinosaur found in Europe is Allosaurus.

    Scientists infer land bridges at certain times, but admit that much is unknown: “While the similarity bolsters the land-bridge case, it provides no information on the distribution and duration of those bridges.”  Creationists suspect that much of the world’s land mass was connected before the Flood.  Every data point is like a puzzle piece for a completed picture hidden from view.  No one knows how many pieces there are but we probably have only a small fraction.  Before this find, it was easy to argue on lack of evidence that Stegosaurus was limited to the North American continent.  One piece of evidence can blow that idea out of the running.  The more pieces the better, but one should not expect that a picture in the mind’s eye is free of presuppositions.
    Next headline on:  DinosaursFossils
    Darwinists Topple Darwin’s Tree of Life    02/01/2007  
    Darwin’s “Tree of Life” is a myth.  It’s based on circular reasoning.  It is a pattern imposed on the data, not a fact emerging from the evidence.  We should give up the search for a single tree of life (TOL) as a record of the history of life on earth, because it is a “quixotic pursuit” unlikely to succeed – and the evidence is against it.  Who said this?  Not creationists, but a new member of the National Academy of Sciences in his inaugural paper for the academy’s Proceedings.1
        W. Ford Doolittle and Eric Bapteste decided to celebrate this inauguration with fireworks.  What they wrote is less a scientific paper than a reprimand.  They let Darwin-lovers have it between the eyes:
    Darwin claimed that a unique inclusively hierarchical pattern of relationships between all organisms based on their similarities and differences [the Tree of Life (TOL)] was a fact of nature, for which evolution, and in particular a branching process of descent with modification, was the explanation.  However, there is no independent evidence that the natural order is an inclusive hierarchy, and incorporation of prokaryotes into the TOL is especially problematic.  The only data sets from which we might construct a universal hierarchy including prokaryotes, the sequences of genes, often disagree and can seldom be proven to agree.  Hierarchical structure can always be imposed on or extracted from such data sets by algorithms designed to do so, but at its base the universal TOL rests on an unproven assumption about pattern that, given what we know about process, is unlikely to be broadly true.  This is not to say that similarities and differences between organisms are not to be accounted for by evolutionary mechanisms, but descent with modification is only one of these mechanisms, and a single tree-like pattern is not the necessary (or expected) result of their collective operation.  Pattern pluralism (the recognition that different evolutionary models and representations of relationships will be appropriate, and true, for different taxa or at different scales or for different purposes) is an attractive alternative to the quixotic pursuit of a single true TOL.
    The last sentences from the abstract (above) and other quotations from the paper (below) show that they are not abandoning evolution.  They are simply claiming that this icon of a single branching tree is unsupportable, and indeed, is a figment of human imagination.  “We will argue that inclusive hierarchical classifications do not emerge naturally and consistently from the relevant prokaryotic data considered in general (in their entirety),” they state.  “Instead, they have been imposed on them by selective analyses that are based on the assumption that a tree must be the real natural pattern, even if only certain of the data can be trusted to reveal it.”  Later, they said, “Importantly, Darwin did not and could not test the reality of the tree pattern.  Indeed, one is hard pressed to find some theory-free body of evidence that such a single universal pattern relating all life forms exists independently of our habit of thinking that it should.”  Homologies, for instance, do not comprise independent evidence for a tree of life: “homologies are more often deduced from trees than trees are from homologies,” they explain.  “Thus, explanans melds with explanandum, and neither is tested.”  The reasoning is circular.  The fossil record and biogeography cannot be used to infer a universal tree except by extrapolation of limited evidence from “specific groups, areas, or times.”  No evidence, in short, produces a tree pattern necessarily; biologists should be open to other patterns, like networks.
        Growing realizations that lateral gene transfer (LGT) is rampant in biology, at least among the prokaryotes, render the discernment of a tree pattern impossible.  One cannot draw a tree out of a scrambled egg.  Is it justifiable to infer a tree when only 5% or less of the data conform to the expected pattern?  Some evolutionists have tried to dispute the extent of LGT, but commit another circular argument in doing so.  Doolittle and Bapteste explain: “to make ‘vertical descent’ the null hypothesis against which claims for LGT must be tested is to assume that which is to be proved: that an inclusive hierarchy exists independently of our beliefs.”  In addition, the authors complain that a “phylogenetic signal” in the genetic data is often weak at best.  Despite what students have been led to believe, “there is no strong expectation that a universal hierarchy that embraces all life should be produced with molecular markers.”
        They spent some time analyzing the TOL hypothesis from Darwin’s own words.  This next excerpt argues that Darwin committed a circular argument by confusing pattern with process.  Doolittle and Bapteste reveal that generations of scientists have grown up with this confusion.  They claim the TOL concept is unnecessary, given other strong evidence for evolution (which they did not specify):
    Problematically, Darwin depended on the notion that the true pattern of natural relationships is a tree in the construction of his theory of the responsible process and, as Panchen (17) notes, his explanandum [the thing to be explained] was subsequently considered by him as a part of the proof that his theory (explanans [the explanation]) was right.  That classifications should be constructed as hierarchies because evolution is a branching process and that hierarchical classification is a proof of branching evolution is the mixed message many of us took from our early education as biologists.  But we now have ample other evidence supporting the reality of evolution.  We could thus dispense with the tree (and such semicircular reasoning), should this particular historical premise about branching fall short, without weakening the solid edifice of evolutionary biology.
    Why Darwin’s argument was called semicircular instead of circular reasoning was not explained.  Also the “ample other evidence” and “solid edifice” was assumed, if by evolution they were implying a universal, mechanistic, unguided natural process that gave rise to all of life without a Designer or Creator.  Nevertheless, this paper clearly argued that there was no reason inherent from the data that the pattern of relationships we observe must look like a branching tree.  It could look like a web, or a network, or something else.2  In fact, some evolutionists have argued for a ring instead of a tree (09/09/2004).  The possibility of “pattern pluralism” arising from multiple mechanisms requires that evolutionary biologists rid themselves of the predilection for “tree-thinking.”
        Elsewhere, the authors chide critics of evolution.  They clearly do not want their statements to fuel the controversy.  Darwin’s Tree of Life may be false, but it was a useful lie that got many biologists fired up about a new path of inquiry.  That being accomplished, they no longer need the metaphor.  The metaphor of a tree is getting in the way of further understanding.  To argue this, they invoke a metaphor of their own: a ladder –
    Darwin’s TOL hypothesis, like most biological theories, is a claim about the process that underlies a pattern.  It is important for modern phylogeneticists to remember that reconstructing the TOL was not the goal of Darwin’s theory, but rather it was an integral element of his developing model of the evolutionary process.  Importantly, this simile prompted generations of scientists to take Darwin’s claim that evolution had occurred seriously, for all his lack of a coherent theory of inheritance.  The TOL was thus the ladder that helped the community to climb the wall of acceptance and understanding of evolutionary process.  But now that we have climbed it, we do not need this ladder anymore.  In 2006, our understanding of evolution at the molecular, population genetic, and ecological levels is rich and pluralistic in character and does not require (or justify) a monistic view of the phylogenetic pattern.
        Holding onto this ladder of pattern is an unnecessary hindrance in the understanding of process (which is prior to pattern) both ontologically and in our more down-to-earth conceptualization of how evolution has occurred.  And it should not be an essential element in our struggle against those who doubt the validity of evolutionary theory, who can take comfort from this challenge to the TOL only by a willful misunderstanding of its import.  The patterns of similarity and difference seen among living things are historical in origin, the product of evolutionary mechanisms that, although various and complex, are not beyond comprehension and can sometimes be reconstructed.
    Again, however, they did not provide examples of evidence supporting their emphatic assertion that life has evolved.  They just claim that it did: that the evidence is “rich” within the broad categories of molecular studies, population genetics and ecology.  They also did not explain why it was necessary to “struggle” against those who doubt this, if in fact, as they argued, pattern and process cannot be used as supports for each other.3
        Their final paragraph argues that evolutionary biology is like history.  Discerning the history of life on earth should invoke a variety of tools:
    In this regard, our task is not different from that of contemporary cultural or social historians.  We know much about what can happen and have a variety of tools by which we might unravel what has happened.  We should use them all, but without seeking some elusive unifying “metanarrative,” either tree or web.  Phylogenetics could become again the rich and realistic science of the genesis of phyla and address within a multifaceted pluralistic framework not only new questions about the past [identification of networks, hubs and highways of gene exchange and vertical descent] but also the present (in particular, through integration of metagenomic data with evolutionary and ecological theory).
    Yet this statement begs the question of why a pluralistic approach is better.  A pluralistic approach involving mutually contradictory presuppositions would seem fruitless.  And why one correct approach should be discounted merely in favor of pluralism seems equally pointless.  One thing is clear from their argument, though: Darwin’s Tree of Life has fallen.
        Radical as this paper seems, others have echoed similar ideas.  Carl Woese, the one who reorganized taxonomy into three kingdoms (archaea, bacteria, and eukarya), wrote an article with Nigel Goldenfield in Nature last week that is even more radical.4  They even call it revolutionary.  “The emerging picture of microbes as gene-swapping collectives demands a revision of such concepts as organism, species and evolution itself” they said in a Connections article called, “Biology’s next revolution.”  In a hail of verbal gunfire, they talked about an “extraordinary time for biology” in which multidisciplinary approaches and new definitions and concepts are about to overturn much of what we thought we knew about evolution.  Such new concepts might even include cybernetics and information theory.  Old Darwin himself may have to step back, and share the limelight with none other than his despised rival, Lamarck:
    Nowhere are the implications of collective phenomena, mediated by HGT [horizontal gene transfer, same as LGT], so pervasive and important as in evolution.  A computer scientist might term the cell’s translational apparatus (used to convert genetic information to proteins) an ‘operating system’, by which all innovation is communicated and realized.  The fundamental role of translation, represented in particular by the genetic code, is shown by the clearly documented optimization of the code.  Its special role in any form of life leads to the striking prediction that early life evolved in a lamarckian way, with vertical descent marginalized by the more powerful early forms of HGT.
        Refinement through the horizontal sharing of genetic innovations would have triggered an explosion of genetic novelty, until the level of complexity required a transition to the current era of vertical evolution.  Thus, we regard as regrettable the conventional concatenation of Darwin’s name with evolution, because other modalities must also be considered.
    They welcome new players into biology: statistical mechanics, dynamical systems theory, and other disciplines more capable in dealing with the concepts of generic energy, information and gene flow.  The old habits of post-hoc modelling will give way to the methods of quantitative prediction and experimental test more characteristic of the physical sciences.
        Progress in biology will require something else, they argue: a new language. 
    Sometimes, language expresses ignorance rather than knowledge, as in the case of the word ‘prokaryote’, now superseded by the terms archaea and bacteria.  We foresee that in biology, new concepts will require a new language, grounded in mathematics and the discoveries emerging from the data we have highlighted.  During an earlier revolution, Antoine Lavoisier observed that scientific progress, like evolution, must overcome a challenge of communication: “We cannot improve the language of any science without at the same time improving the science itself; neither can we, on the other hand, improve a science without improving the language or nomenclature which belongs to it.”  Biology is about to meet this challenge.5

    1W. Ford Doolittle and Eric Bapteste, “Inaugural Article: Evolution: Pattern Pluralism and the Tree of Life Hypothesis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0610699104, published online before print January 29, 2007.
    2“So firm is the grip of tree-thinking” on biologists that they illustrated the fallacy with a spoof.  They gave two examples of tree-like patterns imposed on non-biological data sets that clearly could not represent an ancestral sequence.  One was a pattern of evolutionary authors with similar surnames that are not related.  Another showed a branching pattern of departments in France based on counts of similar surnames.  This “misapplication of tree-thinking” is a fallacy, they argued, that traps evolutionists intent on finding Darwin’s branching pattern when the pattern is not real.  The authors gave real-world examples of how, in some molecular studies, less than 5% of the data is in agreement with a TOL pattern.  In the case of the “tree of cells,” the phylogenetic signal is as low as 1%.  They decry “the continued enthusiasm for universal tree building and its broad application on the basis of very few and often contradictory data.”  The reader can decide whether this situation constitutes a Half Truth or a Big Lie.
    3Here is another example of their defense of evolution: “To be sure, much of evolution has been tree-like and is captured in hierarchical classifications.  Although plant speciation is often effected by reticulation and radical primary and secondary symbioses lie at the base of the eukaryotes and several groups within them, it would be perverse to claim that Darwin’s TOL hypothesis has been falsified for animals (the taxon to which he primarily addressed himself) or that it is not an appropriate model for many taxa at many levels of analysis.  Birds are not bees, and animals are not plants.”  Yet these claims depend on generalities, dogmatic assertions, and arguments that are self-refuting from other arguments in the paper, such as the propensity of biologists to follow an “elusive unifying metanarrative” to explain the data when other metanarratives or patterns might explain it just as well.  At the risk of being perverse, we refer the reader to the 01/10/2007 discussion of animal phylogeny.
    4Nigel Goldenfield and Carl Woese, “Connections: Biology’s next revolution,” Nature 445, 369 (25 January 2007) | doi:10.1038/445369a.
    5Embedded within this paragraph are a couple of presuppositions: (1) that science is progressive, and (2) that a new language brings improvement.  If, as Woese has illustrated, language can express ignorance instead of knowledge, who would be able to judge that a new language for expressing evolution would not represent a regression into a new kind of ignorance?  Biology may be about to “meet this challenge,” but who is the judge who will be able to declare the outcome a victory?
    Once in awhile, among the hundreds of tedious titles in scientific journals about the effect of gamma rays on marigolds or whatever, a paper announces its presence like a trumpet.  Without news sources like CEH to bring these papers to the attention of the lay public, this blast by Doolittle and Bapteste might have been muted.  The intellectual elite readership in academia, already deafened by Darwin, might fail to heed its warning.  They might explain it away as a false alarm, or hush it up.  No longer: the trumpet has sounded!  Darwin’s Tree of Life is fallen!  The sound has reached the Visigoth camp (05/06/2006) and elicited shouts of triumph.  Echoing through the valleys round about Darwin’s castle is heard the taunt, “We told you so!”
        First, it’s necessary to dispense with Doolittle and Bapteste’s protestations that the castle is still safe.  They bluffed that the walls are solid, buttressed with mounds of evidence from molecular biology, genetics and ecology.  They mocked the doubters who, by “willful misunderstanding,” would use their arguments to question evolutionary theory itself.  Don’t fall for this trick.  Their own arguments refute evolution without our help.  They have cut the branch Darwin was sitting on.  Worse, they cut down the whole tree!  They have replaced the tree with a web, Charlie’s Web, that spells out “SOME PIG” in a feeble attempt to bolster his self-esteem while doing nothing to change his circumstances.  Then Woese adds insult to injury by inviting Lamarck back into the leadership.  This is sure to bring on another of Charlie’s worst vomiting attacks, right when he was already gagging over intelligent design, to the point where he can’t stop gagging even when there’s nothing more down below to up Chuck.
        How could PNAS let this trade secret get out?  We know nothing of the motives or beliefs of the authors except what they stated in this paper, and by all appearances, they are loyal members of the Darwin Party.  They did, of course, pay the obligate incense to Charlie and curse the doubters.  You can’t publish in the Darwiniac-controlled Big Science journals without it.  But the damage is done.  Do you realize how big this admission is?  The Tree of Life is arguably the central icon of evolution.  From the single illustration in Charlie’s book till now, the image of a branching tree from a single root emerging from a primordial soup has been the symbol of evolution.  Papers are regularly published with phylogenetic trees.  There are whole journals devoted to tree-building.  Phylogenists employ elaborate software programs that take genomes and try to decipher the hidden tree within.  Is this all for naught?  Is it nothing more than playing games, tilting at windmills that don’t fight back and aren’t even aware of you?
        These authors basically said that tree-thinking evolutionists are dreaming.  Data don’t build trees, people do!  The software programs only succeed in finding a “consensus tree” or “maximum likelihood tree” or “maximum parsimony tree” because that is what biased programmers told them to find (see 07/25/2002).  If the program’s job is to find a tree, then find a tree it will.  It may have to throw out long-branch attraction (04/30/2005), massage the data to account for molecular clock heterogeneity (05/02/2006), and select between a dozen equally-valid results or whatever, but out pops a tree – whoop-de-doo!  The scientist gets a nice graphic to publish in his paper, and everyone is happy except Mother Nature.  If you doubt this, look at what they do with evidence in the 06/13/2003 and 04/30/2005 entries.
        The wishful-tree fallacy perpetuates itself because evolutionists approach the data with tree-thinking lenses on.  (Blinders help, too.)  Their tree may only be supported by 5% of the data, after tossing out the other 95% as irrelevant, but they feel justified in believing in it because they know in their hearts from the get-go that Darwin was The True Prophet.  Look how giddy some of the disciples get (see this Darwin Day advertisement with the “World’s Largest Edible Tree of Life”).
        Can you imagine how grating it must be to be told that Darwin confused pattern with process, that the trees exist only in their imaginations, and that the evidence contradicts this 146-year-old myth Darwin sketched on paper, the only place it exists in the world?  What does this paper do to the $150 million NSF project “Assembling the Tree of Life”? (09/08/2006, 10/30/2002, 03/14/2003).  It pulls the rug out from under it!  No amount of rationalizing about potential applications or better storytelling can justify spending $12 million a year of public money on a quixotic pursuit by a few dogmatic disciples of a tree-worshipping cult.
        Despite their pledges of allegiance to evolution, you will look in vain in these two papers for actual evidence that life emerged and diversified by a blind, materialistic, aimless process from molecules to man.  Yes, scientists observe mutations in genes.  They find variations within the clades, evidence of duplicated genes, and various homologies.  So what?  Other non-Darwinian, non-materialistic explanations are available.  The Darwinist may counter that all life uses the same genetic code, and that this proves a universal common ancestor.  But think outside the Darwin box: does this not fit the creation model?  A network of highly adapted kinds, each springing from a common Hand – what else would you expect?
    For instance, Walter ReMine made it a theme of his book The Biotic Message that life was designed to indicate that it did not evolve, and that it came from a single Creator.  The universal genetic code proves the latter, and the intransigence of life’s nested hierarchies to fit a tree pattern proves the former.  If each group had completely separate codes, one might be justified in believing polytheism.  If all life had a clearly-traceable ancestry, then one might be justified in believing in evolution.  According to ReMine, the Creator guaranteed that the “biotic message” would rule out those alternatives and validate a single, intelligent origin.
    While we’re outside the box, consider further that the evidence fits just what a Bible-believing Jew or Christian would expect.  The world was created perfect, but has degenerated since Creation and the Flood.  Limited diversification from the original created kinds has occurred because of variability built into the genomes of each created kind for robustness and adaptability to change – features perfectly consonant with good design.  Diseases represent degenerative process and a curse on the original creation.  Natural selection works on horizontal scales but does not add new genetic information or functional novelty.  If Carl Woese is justified in looking at the genetic code as an operating system, why should not these patterns based on a Biblical metanarrative, which fit the evidence to a T, be allowed in the Garden of science?  If everybody starts with a metanarrative, why should Charlie’s mythical Tree of Life be protected by angles with flaming words? (puns intended).6

    6The pun density in our commentaries is proportional to p(u)n, where n is the number of stinking evolutionary ideas in paper p, a function of its underlying assumptions u.
        A sinister side of this comical tale is embedded in Doolittle and Bapteste’s fable of the ladder.  What does a ladder do?  It is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.  The ladder helped the Charlietans climb into the castle of Science and pretend to belong: “The TOL was thus the ladder that helped the [atheistic storytelling] community to climb the wall of acceptance and understanding of evolutionary process,” they admitted.  “But now that we have climbed it, we do not need this ladder anymore.”  Having invaded the stronghold, the cultists were in position to enter the inner sanctuary of Science.  They desecrated it by removing its Commandments of observability, testability and repeatability.  They built in its place a Temple of Charlie with a mystical Tree hidden behind a material veil, promising golden apples of enlightenment.
        The Darwin Party conspirators carried out their plot, working tirelessly till their cult became the State Religion.  They hypnotized the peasants with just-so stories to keep them from revolting.  They changed the language into a dialect of materialism and made it illegal to speak the old language of teleos.  Critics were shouted down by mob rule and kicked out of the city.  Former heads of state, despite their eminence and experience, were labeled barbarians and forced to build their own camps outside the walls.  Children were taught that the barbarians were ignorant, insane and wicked.  They had to be kept at bay lest they chop down the sacred Tree.  Children gasped at the prospect of never receiving the promised golden apples.
        Unopposed, the conspirators consolidated their power.  All groups in the castle were required to obtain and display the Darwin Party imprimatur.  They had achieved Utopia.
        For over a century, the Darwinian conspirators have maintained a totalitarian rule over Science.  Indulging their lusts at banquets amply supplied with tantalizing speculations (12/22/2003), they have become fat, lazy and corrupt.  They send their lackeys to enlist cult prostitutes (e.g., 12/11/2006), plan the Tree Festivals and Darwin Days, perform ritual child sacrifice (i.e., the Darwin-only rule in the schools), persecute infidels, brainwash reporters and supervise the cult propaganda in the media.  The noble barbarians, denied access to the institutions, communication channels, funding sources and positions of influence, have suffered long and done the best they can.
        But hark!  A messenger.  He brings word that the people inside are suspecting the Tree was a fake all along.  A trumpet blast from within the wall hints that officials inside are scrambling to maintain order.  Panicking, they issue public service announcements to explain away the embarrassing revelation, claiming that the Tree symbol was necessary to establish the Utopia they all need and enjoy.  They command the people to continue the Darwin Day celebrations, Tree or no Tree.  Edible icons of Darwin’s Tree of Life (example) are distributed to placate the crowds.  Yet murmurs of doubt and discontent remain.  The shrillness of the Party propaganda rises as the enthusiasm of the peasants wanes.  OK, Visigoths and Ostra(cized)goths, now you know why it’s time for Biology’s Next Revolution.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory


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    “...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 February

    Carolus Linnaeus
    1707 - 1778

    Sweden is kicking off “Linnaeus 2007,” year of celebration for their homeboy hero of science (see MyWay article).  What better time to learn about this father of Taxonomy?  He’s not Darwin’s boy; read on.

    What’s more scientific than a scientific name?  To a scientist, your pet dog is Canis familiaris.  Your pet cat is Felis domesticus.  A grizzly bear is Ursus horribilus, and you are Homo sapiens.  The convention of two Latin names (binomial nomenclature), denoting genus and species, is the foundation of taxonomy, the science of classification of living things.  It comes straight out of the work of Carl Linnaeus.  Why did he pursue the huge task of classifying plants and animals?  He took his inspiration from the Bible’s first chapter, which states that God created plants and animals to reproduce “after their kind.”  Linnaeus was attempting to determine what the Genesis kinds are.

    Linnaeus is rightly called the Father of Taxonomy.  His classification scheme assumes that organisms fall into recognizable groups of animals in nested hierarchies.  At the lowest level are species, which are loosely defined as organisms capable of producing fertile offspring.  (This is complicated by the inability to determine this for fossils, and the difficulty of determining the reproductive success for many living organisms.  Sometimes males and females of the same species can look so different, they might be incorrectly classified as separate species.)

    Species (pronounced SPEE-sees for both singular and plural) are sometimes subdivided into subspecies and varieties, which are often labeled with a third Latin name (as in Homo sapiens sapiens, or with a variety designation, as in “Genus species, var. variety-name.”  Species, the bottom of hierarchy, is the second term in the Linnaean system, and is not capitalized.  The first term, which is capitalized, is the next unit in the hierarchy: the genus.  Working up the ladder are families, orders, classes, phyla, and kingdoms.

    It becomes clear that the nested hierarchy is a problem for evolution.  The farther up the scheme, the larger the gaps between types.  At the level of phyla, for instances, think of the huge differences between a starfish (an echinoderm) and a fish (a chordate), or between a beetle (an arthropod) and a snail (a mollusk).  Within each phylum are many common characters, but there are large, systematic gaps between the phyla, classes, orders and families.  House cats, bobcats, lions, tigers and cheetahs share many common characteristics within the cat family, but in every case we know, these are always distinct from members of the dog family.  Dogs and cats belong to the class mammalia, but all mammals are very different from all class aves (birds).  Mammals and birds share characteristics (a backbone) within the phylum chordata (subphylum vertebrata), but all vertebrates are very different from clams in the phylum mollusca.  Higher up, members of the plant kingdom are even more different from members of the animal kingdom.

    The same picture of increasing gaps holds true within the fossil record.  This fact is common knowledge to both creationists and evolutionists.  The latter take the data and infer a branching tree connecting them all, but the actual observational evidence shows only tips of the branches, not the trunks and nodes.  The true picture is more like a lawn than a tree; small groups of organisms at the species level show variations, but there is no evidence, living or fossil, for one “kind” of animal changing into another, such as a reptile into a bird or a fish into a salamander.  Actually, one could say that species are the only level we observe.  The other relationships – families, orders, classes, phyla – are all inferred because they share one or more similar characteristics.

    Taxonomists can be confused about what phylum or class an organism should be placed in, because many animals and plants are composed of mosaics of characteristics from several groups.  Consider the platypus, for example.  It lays eggs like a reptile, has webbed feet like a duck, a venomous spur like a rattlesnake, and fur like a mammal.  Classification can be even more confusing for one-celled organisms.  Some have been recently placed into whole kingdoms separate from plants and animals.  It is often an arbitrary choice where to classify an organism.  The sunflower family, for instance, is kind of a catch-all category for many diverse flowering plants that do not fit well into other families.  Evolutionists have a hard time with these mosaics, often invoking the hand-waving answer “convergent evolution” when asked to explain how “unrelated” organisms share common characteristics, such as the remarkable similarities between placental mammals and their marsupial look-alikes.

    On the other end, it is often difficult to know where the species boundaries are.  Consider that bison and many different kinds of cattle can interbreed (ever had a beefalo burger?).  Horses, donkeys and zebras can interbreed more or less, and so can lions and tigers, yet most of us would consider each of these animals to be separate species.  At the level of species, many organisms show great variety in size, shape and coloration: think of dogs, pigeons and roses for example.  Yet higher up, at the genus and family levels, there appear to be stricter boundaries.  No one has ever seen a dog change into a cat, or a goldfish turn into a seahorse.

    Evolutionists believe that variation has no limits and all things are interrelated, but that is a belief, not an observed fact.  Even breeders know they can only take a horse or a rose or a cow or a sugar beet so far before a trait becomes impossible to modify further.  Taking the data as we find it, without an evolutionary presupposition, we see living things organized into groups within groups within groups, with the major groups separated from one another by large gaps.  The Linnaean classification system reflects the observational evidence.  Despite its occasional points of debate or confusion, it has stood the test of time.  Sadly, some evolutionists are trying to push an alternate “PhyloCode” classification scheme, which organizes plants and animals according to their presumed evolutionary relationships.  If successful, this would only cloud the issue.  It would embed evolutionary assumptions into the way students approach the data.

    Young Carl von Linne was a lover of plants and wildlife, as was his father, a Lutheran minister, and avid gardener.  His father hoped young Carl would go into the ministry, but it was evident the boy was a born naturalist.  Though he eventually pursued a medical career, and both practiced and taught medicine as a professional, Carl’s heart was forever drawn to the natural world.  He has been described as a workaholic with a mania for organization.  He loved learning, reading and knowledge, and was also ruggedly strong and physically fit.  It would take those qualities to take on a project of classifying every plant and animal on earth!

    Others before him had shared this passion.  John Ray, the English naturalist who had died two years before Linnaeus' birth, was a like-minded naturalist, who, by the way, was also a Christian and a creationist.  But the universal classification scheme using Latin binomial nomenclature was the innovation Linnaeus brought to the discipline.  He chose Latin because it was not only the universal language of science, but being a dead language, it was stable and unchanging.  It provided a universal scheme that all naturalists in all countries could use to communicate with each other, as well as to publish their discoveries and cross-check their findings against those of others.  At age 40, Carl latinized his own name into Carolus Linnaeus the name by which he is best known.  He moved to Holland in 1735 for three years, then back to Sweden, where he lived out his days as a doctor and professor.  Taxonomy remained his obsessive hobby throughout his life.

    Linnaeus at first actually believed it possible to classify every living thing in the world.  At age 25, Carl secured a grant from the University of Upssala to take a thousand mile tour of Lapland to catalog plants.  One can only imagine the delights and dangers, the fatigue and satisfaction this “creation safari” entailed as he waded icy streams, slogged through bogs and avoided nervous landowners.  He kept detailed journals and catalogued thousands of plants.  A similar trip through central Sweden added many more.  Linnaeus traveled over four thousand miles on foot in his quest to catalog all the species in “God’s garden.”  He also leveraged his talent to students that he motivated, who often went on long and arduous journeys to far lands to collect more specimens (Dan Graves said a third of these died on their dangerous treks).  Linnaeus continued updating, expanding and improving his catalogs throughout his life, and as a legacy, he left the Linnaean Society, which continues to this day as an international taxonomic institution.

    “Linnaeus was a firm creationist,” says Dan Graves, but comments that “Certain aspects of his theories were enigmatic.  He seems to have doubted that there was a universal flood.  Sediments were deposited over a long period of time, he said.  He paid little attention to fossils and insisted on classifying humans with apes.”  Nevertheless, Linnaeus did not believe in any theory of evolution.  He firmly believed that the kinds God had created in the Garden of Eden still existed.  Although he believed in fixity of species at first, he did allow for variation with the Genesis kinds later on.

    Linnaeus wrote in rhapsodic lines about the wisdom of God in creation.  Dan Graves provides some examples:

    • One is completely stunned by the resourcefulness of the Creator.
    • I saw the infinite, all-knowing and all-powerful God from behind.... I followed His footsteps over nature’s fields and saw everywhere an eternal wisdom and power, an inscrutable perfection.
    Linnaeus introduced the idea of classifying plants by their reproductive structures.  Sometimes he went a little overboard in his descriptions: “The flowers’ leaves... serve as bridal beds which the Creator has so gloriously arranged, adorned with such noble bed curtains, and perfumed with so many soft scents that the bridegroom with his bride might there celebrate their nuptials with so much the greater solemnity.”  Notwithstanding the romanticism, who could doubt that a firm belief in the Genesis version of creation can be a strong stimulus for scientific research?

    Linnaeus continued classifying plants and animals into his sixties, till he suffered a series of strokes.  The frontispiece of his magnum opus Species Plantarum, the work that set established taxonomy as a scientific discipline, is a passage from the Psalms that could be viewed as a life verse of all great creation scientists both past and present, who similarly quoted it with feeling: Psalm 104:24 – “O Jehovah [Lord], how ample are Thy works!  How wisely Thou hast fashioned them!  How full the earth is of Thy possessions!”


    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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