Creation-Evolution Headlines
March 2007
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“Darwin claimed that a unique inclusively hierarchical pattern of relationships between all organisms based on their similarities and differences 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....  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 [tree of life] rests on an unproven assumption about pattern that, given what we know about process, is unlikely to be broadly true.”
—Doolittle and Bapteste, from the 02/01/2007 entry.
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Darwinian Assumptions Questioned   03/31/2007    
Sometimes common knowledge is not knowledge at all.  We sometimes are surprised to find out that things we had always heard turn out not to be true: for instance, the claim that Humphrey Bogart said “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca, that humans only use 10% of their brains, that carbon-14 dates things millions of years old, that the 9/10 on gasoline prices is a tax for road repair, or that saying “Bless you” when somebody sneezes helps the sneezer in some mysterious way.  Recently, it has come to light that some ideas about Darwin and his evolutionary theory, long assumed as matters of fact, are not:

  1. Did Darwin fear publication?  As the typical retellings on TV and in biographies go, Charles Darwin delayed publishing his book for fear of the reaction, especially from Christians and religious people.  The BBC News reported on a researcher who has debunked this notion.  Darwin’s letters show he was committed to publish all along.  “The idea that Charles Darwin delayed publishing On the Origin of Species for 20 years for fear of ridicule is a myth,” it says.  The delay was more due partly to bouts of ill health, and partly to his wanting to amass more evidence first.
  2. Did dinosaurs have to die off before mammals flourished?  No, reported Live Science and Science Daily.  Mammals were doing well in the age of dinosaurs, and the rapid rate of diversification began a long time after dinosaurs went extinct.  This contradicts the usual picture on TV documentaries like the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs that mammals were all little shrew-like midgets dodging the big feet of monsters till a meteor blasted them to oblivion.  Incidentally, the BBC News also reported this finding, and called the old idea a “straw man” argument.
  3. Is antibiotic resistance Darwinian evolution in action?  Michael Egnor, a medical doctor, argues that this evidence for evolution is a tautology.  See his reason on Evolution News.
  4. Do animals evolve faster in warmer climates?  Again, the answer is no.  A new study reported by Science Daily showed that the reverse is true: animals evolve faster in temperate zones and at the poles than in the tropics.  The researchers debunked what they called a common assumption, the article explains.
Sometimes things right under our microscopes don’t fit the neat textbook pictures.  Science Daily, for instance, reported that the classification of one-celled organisms is in disarray.  Recent years have seen major reinterpretations of the status of Neanderthal Man.  The finding of a vast array of viruses living in ocean water may revise our conceptions of life.  And according to Science Daily, evo-devo theories, once promising, are struggling because their model organisms fail to answer key questions about evolution.  In many respects, it would seem Charles Darwin would hardly recognize his theory after 148 years of revisions.  He himself made substantial revisions during his lifetime, biographers note.  Some modern evolutionists forget that criticisms from scientists about the power of natural selection, and problems with his inheritance theory, made Darwin move toward the Lamarckian ideas he had earlier criticized.  It is a curious phenomenon that evolutionary theory itself evolves.
Maybe Darwinism is analogous to Lenz’s Law.  Physicists learn that magnetically induced currents produce magnetic fields that oppose the inducing field.  Could it be that evolutionary ideas induce countermeasures in nature that oppose evolutionary ideas?  (This idea suggested in jest only; sug-gest in jest, if you digested that.)
    For any oft-repeated truism, it is good practice to ask, “How do you know that?”  We would probably be shocked at the number of things we take for granted that have little or no evidential support.  Darwin’s myth seems especially prone to revision.  Sometimes both the urban legend and the revision are both wrong, because both are prone to the same flawed assumptions.  This is the case in #2 and #4 above.  The revisors in both cases were still assuming evolution and millions of years.  They merely rearranged the pieces without changing the overall evolutionary picture.  This compounds the error, and poses myth against myth.  Beware of myth-placed confidence.
Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolution
Two Films Fight the Consensus   03/31/2007    
Two film documentaries this month, though not on the subject of Darwinism, are contradicting scientific consensus.
  1. Global warming is man’s fault, right?:  A documentary by Martin Durkin called “The Great Global Warming Swindle” (see Channel interviewed half a dozen notable climate scientists who dispute the human-caused global warming scare.  The entire documentary can be viewed on You Tube.
  2. Colleges educate students, right?  A new documentary called Indoctrinate U exposes the situation on many modern university campuses, where students are systematically indoctrinated by leftist ideologues.  Free speech is shouted down and political correctness reigns supreme, producer Evan Coyne Maloney attempts to document with interviews and examples.
Meanwhile, Randy Olsen’s Darwin vs. ID film Flock of Dodos is still making the rounds.  It is garnering more fans on the pro-Darwin side.  Proponents of intelligent design have caught this film refuting itself.  It criticized Jonathan Wells for claiming that textbooks still exhibit Haeckel’s embryos, claiming that this alleged inaccuracy undermines the credibility of the rest of the book.  But after the production, Wells produced current textbooks that do use the Haeckel drawings.  Olsen’s film also produced an alleged creationist graphic that actually came from a parody site.  Do these inaccuracies not undermine the credibility of the rest of the film, they ask?
The medium is not the problem.  Film can be good; film can be bad.  The ideas expressed via the sensation-enriched medium of film still need to be evaluated on the validity of the claims made.  Watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth side-by-side with The Great Global Warming Swindle and decide who makes the better case – not who has the better background music, camera angles or other enhancements.  At least now there are alternative viewpoints for astute baloney detectors to compare.
Next headline on:  Media
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  The Evolution of Shopper’s Arm   03/31/2007    
This week’s prize goes to the Society for Experimental Biology, which, according to EurekAlert, said this in a press release:
The next time you are struggling to carry your bags home from the supermarket just remember that this could, in fact, be the reason you are able to walk upright on two legs at all!  How we have evolved to walk on two legs remains a fundamental but, as yet, unresolved question for scientists.  A popular explanation is that it is our ability to carry objects, particularly children, which forced early hominins onto two legs.  Dr Johanna Watson (University of Manchester) will present work supporting this theory on Saturday 31st March 2007 at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Meeting in Glasgow....
    Results indicated that when carrying an evenly spread load humans are actually more efficient at carrying than most mammals but carrying awkward loads, such as an infant on one side of the body, uses much more energy.  However this sort of carrying would have been inevitable once early hominins lost the ability to cling on with their feet.  “The high energetic cost of carrying an asymmetric load, suggests that infant carrying would need to generate significant benefits elsewhere in order to be selected for,’ says Dr Watson.
This idea raises some follow-up questions not answered in the press release.  Don’t monkeys do quite well carrying their young?  Wouldn’t evolution fix its mistake?  Why is this still a fundamental question?  Why is it still unresolved?  How could tests with humans carrying dumbbells, or computer models of alleged hominids, provide any confidence in explaining unobservable historical events?  If evolution is so versatile and inevitable, why isn’t it helping us carry our shopping bags now?  Is this hypothesis claiming that the loss of clinging feet and the need for carrying infants was sufficient to generate significant benefits elsewhere, like big brains, supermarkets and Societies for Experimental Biology?  If so, and reason was only a by-product of an evolutionary trade-off, how could the Society know this?
Follow this line of reasoning far enough, and supermarkets arose by natural selection.  It would be religious to claim intelligent design had anything to do with the origin of paper and shopping carts.  How about a Society for Real Biology for a change.
Next headline on:  Early ManEvolutionDumb Ideas
  National Geographic urges calm over challenges to Darwinism, from 03/18/2003.

The Hot Moon Epidemic Spreads to the Suburbs   03/31/2007    
A planetary symptom we might call “Enceladus fever” is apparently an epidemic.  Now, we’ve found that it infects some of the Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) beyond the orbit of Neptune.  More and more small bodies are being found with internal heat that has broken out onto the surface.  This is a big surprise.  Small bodies should have frozen solid in billions of years.
    Richard Kerr reported for Science today about discussions at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences conference held March 12-16 in Texas.1  Here’s the surprise in a nutshell:

What would erupting volcanoes, even icy ones, be doing on the coldest bodies in the solar system?  Temperatures hover around 50 kelvin [-370° F] on Kuiper belt objects (KBOs), which circle on the frigid dark fringes of the solar system for eons on end.  But astronomers recently have seen signs that fresh ice has formed on KBOs in the geologically recent past.  Now, researchers have calculated how a KBO, at least a larger one, might husband its primordial allotment of heat until the present day....
    Somehow, relatively warm crystalline ice has formed of late on the largest KBOs, but scientists have had trouble explaining where the necessary heat came from.  KBOs have been cooling inside for billions of years, and unlike satellites such as Io or Enceladus, they do not orbit a huge planet that can spare a trickle of tidal energy to heat the smaller body’s interior.
Scientists committed to the consensus age of the solar system (4.5 billion years) cannot endure any thought of revising that number down, so the challenge is to model how a small body could retain its primordial heat for 4.5 billion years.  Here’s the explanation in brief.  If the body began with enough fast-burning radioactive fuel, like potassium-40, it might get hot enough inside to differentiate into layers.  A molten core would form, surrounded by an insulating rocky shell.  A liquid ocean might form above the rock layer.  As ice expands, it might crack, propagating channels to the surface.  If there is ammonia in the mix, it might lower the melting point to permit slurries of ammonia-water “magma” to spread on the surface.
    Nevertheless, a veteran planetary scientist commented, “I’m surprised it stays so hot.”  If this phenomenon is common to KBOs, maybe one of the largest – the Pluto-Charon system – could be observed up close in 2015 when the New Horizons spacecraft pays a visit.
1Richard A. Kerr, “Cold, Cold Bodies, Warm Hearts,” Science, 30 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5820, p. 1789, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5820.1789a.
The moyboys* of the Lyell Theater seem to be on the defensive these days.  The planets and moons are not following the script.  It’s supposed to be Act MMMMDVI of King Liar but they’re playing as if it’s Act CCM of a different play.  Is this a super condensed version of the show, or are we in the wrong playhouse?  The audience of the little hamlet stirs.  This is not just much ado about nothing; it’s becoming a tempest, or, as you like it, Lyell’s labors lost.  Measure for measure, all’s well that ends well, but this is looking more like a comedy of errors.  If the moyboys in desperation start singing For he’s a jolly othello,” the audience may just get up and walk out.  The timing of the crew couldn’t be worse.  Across the street, there’s a blockbuster oratorio drawing in huge crowds: The Creation.
*Believers in “millions of years, billions of years.”
Next headline on:  Dating MethodsSolar System
Did Indians See Jurassic Beasts?   03/30/2007    
Did Indians have familiarity with Jurassic monsters, or were they good paleontologists, skilled at reconstructions?  In the “Random Samples” page of news tidbits in the journal Science March 30,1 the story is told and the interpretation given:
Some fossils are rare, but this one recently unearthed in eastern Oregon may be positively mythic.  In life, the 2-meter-long Jurassic seagoing crocodile (above), discovered by members of the North American Research Group, sported scales, needlelike teeth, and a fishtail.  Some paleontologists, including Stanford University researcher Adrienne Mayor, think similar fossils may have inspired Native American representations of water monsters.  Mayor notes the croc’s “remarkable” resemblance, for example, to a 19th century Kiowa artist’s drawing (inset) of a legendary water serpent.
No evidence was supplied whether Native Americans were even familiar with fossils, let alone whether they ever made reconstructions based on them.
1Random Samples, “Oregon Sea Monster,” Science, Volume 315, Number 5820, Issue of 30 March 2007.
Unless such fossils were articulated and completely exposed, it’s hard to imagine early hunter-gatherers reconstructing entire animals from fossils as well as this story claims.  Why is the more straightforward explanation, that some of them actually saw this beast and imitated it, not even considered?  The obvious reason is that there is no way in the evolutionary timetable humans and Jurassic crocs could have co-existed.
    Not enough information is supplied in this short article to explain if the Kiowa drawing was an imitation of earlier legendary monsters that his ancestors might have seen.  It’s also not clear whether a 19th century Indian might have seen scientific reconstructions of prehistoric monsters that influenced his work.  Not too much should be inferred, therefore, from this brief article.  The biased interpretation of the scientist is the interesting thing to note: he immediately jumps to a conclusion based on his assumption that the two were millions of years apart.
Next headline on:  FossilsDating Methods
Is Hardy Life Evidence of an Evolutionary Origin?   03/29/2007    
Salt-tolerate species of unicellular organisms are found in all three kingdoms of life, says an article on  “Astrobiologists, those cross disciplinary scientists dedicated to investigating the broad question of life in the universe,” writes Lisa Chu-Theilbar of the SETI Institute, “often study extremophiles, organisms that live at the edges of what life is known to tolerate.”  Although this statement on its face could assume either designed life or evolved life, the context of it referring to the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute makes it clear the assumption is that the life must have evolved with its remarkable tolerance to salt.  “Because these halophilic microbes are so ubiquitous and so robust, they are great candidates for the kind of organism that might once have lived or possibly even still survives, on Mars.”  Nothing in the article explicitly states that hardy life arose by itself.  The position of the SETI Institute is very clear that the creator is material evolution.
    A sample of similar thinking was found in a JPL press release March 12: “Deep inside Enceladus, our model indicates we’ve got an organic brew, a heat source and liquid water, all key ingredients for life,” said a Cassini scientist about Enceladus.  “And while no one is claiming that we have found life by any means, we probably have evidence for a place that might be hospitable to life.”  The implicit assumption is that if the conditions are right, life could emerge by itself.
“If you build it, they will come.”  This marketing cliché works with designed organisms, like humans, who operate with purpose and intent, but when was the last time you saw an inanimate object to engage in goal-seeking behavior, simply because the opportunity presented itself?  Will an abundance of mud, straw and a hot sun spontaneously give rise to a building?  If the environment is subject to torrential rains, will it then construct for itself a sturdy roof?
    Many in the space program presume that suitable environments generate life.  Many in the SETI program assume that biomarkers will imply life arose spontaneously on its own.  These logical fallacies permeate much of the space program.  They are never questioned or criticized because of dogmatic Darwinism and a science that cannot think outside the materialistic box.
Next headline on:  SETIOrigin of Life
Saturn Still Serving Surprises   03/28/2007    
The Cassini Spacecraft, three-fourths of the way into its 4-year prime mission, is not running out of new things to see.  Some of the latest discoveries are both awesome and strange.
  1. A Hex on the Pole:  As if the south pole of Saturn, with its earth-sized hurricane (picture) were not dramatic enough, the north pole seems determined to steal the thunder.  A bizarre hexagon-shaped feature was observed surrounding the pole that has scientists scratching their heads.  The press release at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) states that the structure, unique in the solar system, is a long-lived feature.  It’s not just a shallow cloud formation, either; the hexagonal shape extends 60 miles deep into the atmosphere.  How such a shape could form and endure in a fluid is a new and unexpected puzzle to solve.  Watch this short video of the hexagon in motion.
  2. The whole Enceladus:  Little Enceladus, the second sizeable moon beyond the rings, is like a planetary David tugging on Goliath’s beard.  This little moon, no bigger than the British Isles, amazed scientists when its south polar geysers were caught in action in 2005 (see 02/10/2007, 11/28/2005).  Now, scientists have found that this tiny erupting moon is influencing Saturn’s gigantic magnetic field.  It spurts out so many charged particles, it drags the plasma with it, causing slippage of the plasma disk.  The JPL press release explains, “In a David and Goliath story of Saturnian proportions, the little moon Enceladus is weighing down giant Saturn’s magnetic field so much that the field is rotating slower than the planet.”  As a result, this throws off measurements of the rotation rate of the magnetic field, a key parameter used to infer the planet’s inner rotation rate.  See also the Science Daily report.
        Little Enceladus made yesterday’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.  The output of the moon’s geysers are clearly seen feeding the E-ring around Saturn.  One wonders whether this is an unusual burst of activity, or a long-lived feature – and how long such a feature could live.  See our previous story from 03/13/2007.
  3. Tug of Warp:  Little moons around the F-ring of Saturn tug at the material in noticeable ways.  JPL issued this picture of Prometheus dragging material out of the ring, and breakaway clumps of material from previous passages of nearby moons.  The material may pass hands back and forth between the moons and the rings, but scientists are not sure; some of the embedded moonlets appear to have eccentric orbits and pass right through the F-ring at times.
  4. Missing wondered where all the craters went on Titan.  Cassini’s radar mapper has only examined about 10% of Titan’s surface, but only four clear craters have turned up – a “surprisingly small number” for a moon nearly the size of Mercury.  Either the craters are quickly erased or the surface is young.  “If Titan’s surface had the same density of craters that other Saturnian moons have, there should be thousands of craters,” remarked one member of the science team.
  5. Charming physics:  For those liking to delve deeper into the physics of Saturn, a new CHARM PDF file (Cassini-Huygens Analysis and Results of the Mission) was posted 3/27.  Dr. Claudia Alexander delivered a colorful Powerpoint presentation about science results from the magnetic field observations.  Click here for a list of previous CHARM presentations on other aspects of the Saturn system.  To see Dr. Alexander in action, click here for her latest videocast on mission status, and here for the archives.
To add to Cassini’s art gallery, a beautiful color picture of Saturn was taken with the large moon Rhea.  The Imaging Team has their own website with special features, like Saturn Golf, and the Planetary Society keeps a running blog of happenings.  Since 18 countries are involved in the mission, you can find additional Cassini-Huygens stories from a European perspective at the European Space Agency.  Even amateur scientists (and some pros with aliases) gather at the Unmanned Spaceflight forum to share their reactions and opinions.  Some even take the raw images and do amazing things with them, like this and this.  Anyone with imaging tools and some imagination can join the fun.  Our previous Cassini story was on 03/01/2007.
    Cassini is flying by Titan numerous times this year and next (see schedule), looking for more lakes and evidences of cryovolcanism, studying the atmosphere and mapping the surface with radar.  Some other big-news encounters are in the plans.  June 27 Cassini flies by Tethys at close range for the second time.  On August 30 there is a close flyby of Rhea.  On September 7, one of the most spectacular and waited-for moon encounters of the mission occurs: a flyby of Iapetus from only 932 miles (see latest image and 01/07/2005 story).  And, to top it all, next March 12 the spacecraft will attempt a daring plunge through the geyser plume of Enceladus from only 14 miles up –the closest encounter of the tour.  This will enable the instruments to collect samples of the material, precious data that will help scientists understand the processes at work in the smallest hyperactive globe in the solar system.  The prime tour ends with a “high dive” high-inclination sequence (August 31 to July 1) that should provide stunning views of the rings and the polar hexagon from above.
    The end of the prime mission (July 2008) may not be the grand finale; assuming Congress approves plans for an Extended Mission, and the spacecraft stays healthy, Cassini has enough fuel and power to continue to dazzle us with its Saturn postcards for two or three years – or more.
An amazing story.  Enjoy it while you can: a ringside seat on the most successful interplanetary tour ever.  It won’t feel the same when Cassini is in the history books; it’s much more fun to learn while it is happening.  Go Cassini!  Keep those bits coming, and fill our dishes with wonder.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsPhysicsGeology
  Grief counseling from an evolutionary perspective, from 03/21/2005.

Desperately Seeking Macroevolution   03/28/2007    
With Intelligent Design critics hot on their heels, Darwinian evolutionists are hot to find transitional forms that they can exhibit as evidence for large-scale evolution (macroevolution).  A symposium on that very subject was held last October by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), but a report on the conference did not come out till this month’s issue of BioScience.1  It appears only pro-Darwinists were allowed a hearing.
    The abstract says, “Speakers at the ‘Macroevolution: Evolution above the Species Level’ symposium, held at the National Association of Biology Teachers annual meeting last October, focused on macroevolutionary processes, the evolution of key innovations and major lineages of organisms, and the evidence for these processes.”  The Cambrian Explosion and other difficulties were specifically addressed – including this admission in the opening remarks: “Some in the antievolution community assert that microevolution happens but not macroevolution, because they believe there is no evidence for it.”  Here, then, was a prime opportunity for pro-Darwin advocates to showcase the very best examples of macroevolution.  Assuming reporter Oksana Hlodan did a fair job of capturing the highlights, what examples did the panel of five come up with?
    Combing through the report, here is the short list of evidence for macroevolution:

  1. Choanoflagellates, a class of protozoa found in almost any body of water, seem to have the proteins higher animals use for cell signalling and adhesion.  So, “Genes shared by choanoflagellates and animals were most likely present in their common ancestor and may shed light on the transition to multicellularity.”  Nicole King (UC Berkeley) suggested that unicellular organisms like these might have been preadapted for multicellularity.  That almost sounds like a mindless process was able to plan ahead.
  2. Developmental programs were exhibited as evidence by Nipam Patel (UC Berkeley) for how different body plans might have emerged, such as bilateral symmetry and numbers of segments.  He gave examples of fruit flies with four wings and with legs where the antennae should be.
  3. Radiation (the biological kind, not the atomic kind) was discussed by Jeffrey S. Levinton (State U of NY at Stony Brook).  He tried to explain the Cambrian Explosion by referring to the fact that the “molecular clock” suggests an earlier time for diversification than the fossil record shows.  “The Cambrian explosion marks the appearance of most bilaterian multicellular animal designs,” he agreed, “but the actual divergence of these groups may have occurred many millions of years before the Cambrian.”
  4. Extinction was presented as evidence by David Jablonski (U of Chicago).  But how can the loss of 95% of living things (his estimate) over five major extinction events count as evidence for macroevolution?  The explanation: “Mass extinctions are important in macroevolution because they change the rules of survival, eliminating the dominant groups of the time and allowing adaptations to hitchhike on traits, such as geographic range size, that determine survivorship during extinction episodes.  Mass extinctions homogenize the biota, and they encourage postextinction evolutionary bursts.”
  5. Whales: Phillip Gingerich (U of Michigan) presented a series of fossils showing the putative evolution of whales.  He considered this “a transition from land to sea once thought inexplicable in terms of evolution.”
  6. Flowers: Scott Hodges (UC Santa Barbara) argued that flowering plants with nectar spurs are more diverse than groups without them.  His explanation: “Finding this association, suggests that nectar spurs affect the process of speciation or extinction.”
After this, the symposium discussed how to teach this evidence in the public schools with materials from the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS).  Then Kathleen Smith (U of North Carolina) summed up the evidence in her closing remarks:
The genetic toolkit is important in the study of macroevolution.  The same sets of genes are used again and again, so that major evolutionary change does not necessarily require major genetic changes.
    There is complexity in the tempo and mode of evolution.  There are many different patterns in macroevolutionary events.
    Many macroevolutionary changes depend on significant changes in the environment, some of which have led to large extinction events.
    The processes of microevolution and macroevolution are continuous.
The article notes that the presentations are available on the AIBS website.
    Let’s look at one other example.  In its feature “Life’s Little Mysteries,” Live Science posted a short article March 26, “What’s So Special About Darwin’s Finches?”  The article noted that many consider this case a “symbol of evolution” by natural selection.  The history of Darwin’s finches is summarized.  One tidbit mentioned in passing is that Darwin paid little note of the finches during the stopover at the Galápagos, and only years later “tried to make up for the deficit by borrowing some finch notes taken by the Beagle’s Captain Robert FitzRoy.”2
    The explanation in the last sentence about where Darwin’s finches fit into evolutionary theory is notable not only for what it claims, but for what it avoids claiming: “In the past few decades, biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant of Princeton University have studied finch populations and showed that the average beak sizes of successive generations changed to adapt to new food sources on Daphne Major, an island in the Galápagos.”  In fact, the beak sizes fluctuated back and forth with food availability, with no long-term trend discernible (see 07/14/2006 entry and its embedded links).
1Oksana Hlodan, “Macroevolution: Evolution Above the Species Level,” BioScience, Volume 57, Number 3, March 2007, pp. 222-225(4).
2FitzRoy was a Bible-believing Christian who denounced Darwin’s evolutionary ideas and deeply regretted having had any part of Darwin’s slide into apostasy.
So that’s it?  This is laughable.  The closest two cases for macroevolution that had any bones or photographs to back them up were the whale tale and the nectar spur myth.  For the latter, they are still species within the same kind, for crying out loud—not examples of macroevolution.  No creationist would deny the ability of some flowering plants to diversify to a limited extent.  As to whale evolution, that claim has been roundly debunked by many ID and creationist groups: the Discovery Institute response to the PBS Evolution series, by TrueOrigin #1 and True Origin #2, by Answers in Genesis, by Creation Ministries International, by the Creation Research Society, by ICR and many others.  The AIBS and other Darwin Propagandists pretend like these critiques don’t even exist.  The honest thing for a scientist would be to first do a literature search and come well-armed, but they never do.  They present their very biased one side of the story as if nobody else ever had a problem with it.
    The rest of the so-called “evidence” for macroevolution all consisted of “suggestions” that “might” explain away the falsifying evidence with a little more work (and funding), with nothing but hope that future discoveries might “shed light” on the vexing problem of how all the major body plans of all the animals appeared in the blink of an eye in the fossil record.  Such excuses don’t shed any light; they cover up the clear light of design.
    As for the LiveScience pitiful article on Darwin’s finches, here is another case of pretending the criticisms against Darwin don’t exist.  Jonathan Wells wrote a whole chapter about this in Icons of Evolution (note how LieScience used the synonym “symbol” instead of “icon” in their description).  Incidentally, Wells also had a chapter on four-winged fruit flies; Dr. Patel should have known that there is no way these rare mutants would survive in the wild, so they are irrelevant to evolutionary theory.  Haven’t these people heard that the Peter & Rosemary Grant team only found fluctuations around a mean in finch beaks over 30 years of study?  They only found slight enlargements of the average beak size of one species (on the order of fractions of a millimeter).  Big deal.  Moreover, the changes were reversed when the climate changed.  And this is still being promoted as something “special” worth knowing because it is a symbol of macroevolution?  Come on.  Any honest reporter should acknowledge the criticisms and try to address them.  Ignoring the question is tantamount to propaganda.
    In short, critics of Darwinian evolution should take heart at this, another in a long series of embarrassing admissions that Darwin’s modern-day disciples have no evidence for Charlie’s myth.  How much longer Darwinism will endure before collapsing is anyone’s guess.  If you’d like to hasten the inevitable, then you’d better stop their attempts to keep indoctrinating the young in their side and silencing the opposition.  Notice that they hastened at the end of the symposium to talk about how best to inculcate the youth into their mystery religion.  Unless we get public schools to teach the facts, to permit fair and balanced presentation of all the evidence, the Darwinistas could succeed in raising another generation of zombies.  This means the collapse of Darwinism could be delayed long enough for it to work even more mischief in society.  As Disraeli once said, “Error is often more earnest than truth.”  This means that error can win by default.  If you care about the truth, you had better exercise your earnestness above the opposition’s intensity level and apply it wisely.
Next headline on:  Darwinian Evolution
Leakey Manipulated His Apelike “Skull 1470” to Look Human   03/27/2007    
The skull of an alleged human ancestor Richard Leakey made famous in 1972 was poorly reconstructed, claims a paleoanthropologist who specializes in craniofacial biology.  According to Dr. Timothy Bromage of New York University, Leakey employed nonstandard principles while assembling the bones of his “Skull 1470”, giving the face a flatter, more human-like profile.  Many at the time of the discovery were stunned to find such a human-like face dated to 3 million years ago.  (This date was later revised downward to 1.9 million years.  The skull was later dubbed Homo rudolfensis and considered an ancestor in the direct line leading to modern man, Homo sapiens.)
    Employing rules that the eyes, ears and mouth of mammals must bear a precise relationship to one another, Dr. Bromage did his own reconstruction and found the skull “looked more apelike than previously believed.”  The computer-aided reconstruction reduced the brain size to less than half that of a modern human.  He said that the corrected skull has a “surprisingly small brain and distinctly protruding jaw, features commonly associated with more apelike members of the hominid family living as much as three million years ago.”  Dr. Bromage criticized the famous paleoanthropologist, judging that “Dr. Leakey produced a biased reconstruction based on erroneous preconceived expectations of early human appearance that violated principles of craniofacial development.... Dr. Leakey produced a reconstruction that could not have existed in real life.”  The erroneous interpretation, the article states, has been “widely accepted until now.”
Source: EurekAlert.  A larger image with caption can be found on Science Daily.
OK, let’s see if Leakey will recant.  Let’s see if the textbook publishers will fix the mistake.  His Skull 1470 raised quite a stir at the time and gained Leakey international fame.  Now, it comes out that Leakey’s personal bias dictated how he put the puzzle pieces of bone together.  How much does this go on in the dubious practice of paleoanthropology?  What other instances are out there right now with built-in bias?  Here it is 25 years after the discovery before the truth comes out.  Remember this next time this crowd trumpets some new missing link.  Today’s kids may not know it’s phony baloney till 2032.
    Bromage, for all his efforts in exposing Leakey’s bias, is still biased himself.  He still thinks man evolved from apes – just 300,000 years later than the current consensus timeline.  He still tosses around the millions of years and pictures Homo ergaster and Homo erectus belonging to some mythical pathway to man.  He still calls the apes Australopithecus and Paranthropus “hominids” and accepts the Darwin Party premise that we are evolved apes.  Let’s encourage him to keep exposing the bias in Leakey’s skulls.  This should get Leakey mad enough to counterattack by finding the bias in Bromage’s work.  The public will get the message: the tale of human evolution is all bias, all the time.
Next headline on:  Early ManFossils
New Dinos Found; What Do They Mean?   03/27/2007    
There is often a wide gap between the bones that are found and the stories that are told about them.  As new dinosaur bones come to light, some reporters cannot resist imagining all kinds of things about their lifestyles.  Here are two recent examples.  As a bonus, we’ll add a non-dinosaur reptile story or two.
  1. Mongolia: It’s a Bird!  It’s Plain!  Ker Than reported on two “raptor”species unearthed in Mongolia in Live Science.  He quickly associated these with alleged “feathered dinosaurs” like Microraptor gui.  But wasn’t that a bird?  He claimed that dromeosaurs were bipedal dinosaurs that “were closely related to birds and many of them are even known to have had feathers.”  (For more on Microraptor gui, see the 05/19/2003 entry and analysis by Jonathan Sarfati at Answers in Genesis.)
  2. Fallout Shelter:  Charles Q. Choi at Live Science reported on the find of an underground den of dinosaurs found in Montana.  The setting and the shape of the snout and legs suggested that Oryctodromeus cubicularis, “digging runner of the lair,” dug burrows – the first dinosaur found with that ability.  Choi connected that with the K-T extinction and suggested that these dinosaurs “dug deep, possibly to avoid catastrophe.”  See also the BBC News.
  3. Lizard slithered:  Jeanna Brynner wrote in Live Science about a lizard having nubs for front legs.  This was provided as support for evolution: the fossil, she said, is “clarifying how some lizards shed their limbs as they crept through evolutionary time and morphed into slinky snakes.”  Another paleontologist said this provided a window into what was happening 100 million years ago.  “We now know that losing limbs isn’t a new thing and that lizards were doing it much earlier than we originally thought.”
        Another surprise was noted.  Losing the front limbs first seems odd, “when you would think it would be the opposite.”  Wouldn’t a handicapped lizard shove its face into the dirt?  “The front limbs would be useful for holding onto dinner or digging a hole, but it must be developmentally easier to get rid of the forelimbs,” confessed Michael Caldwell (U of Alberta).  The end of the article contains a key disclaimer about the evolutionary value of this fossil: “Though the lizard find does not make for a ‘missing link,’ Caldwell suggests it suffices as a critical data point for helping scientists understand the aquatic process of limb loss.”  National Geographic and EurekAlert also reported on this story.  Question: has anyone proved this individual was not an unfortunate mutant?
  4. Leapin’ lizards:  Another fossil lizard shows extended vertebra the discoverers believe allowed it to glide like a flying squirrel.  For a picture, see Live Science.  This had nothing to do with other flying reptiles, the pterosaurs, which were capable of true powered flight.  There are “dragon lizards” in Asia capable of gliding today.  Another gliding lizard fossil is known in Triassic strata.  The discoverer made this tie-in to evolution: “It is really amazing to see evolution making nearly identical structures in animals of different origins spanning such a long history.”
Inferring behavior, ecology and motivation is keeping paleontologists busy.  “We may not have resolved all that dinosaurs can do,” said one paleontologist.
Evolutionary paleontology is 30% digging and 70% storytelling.  Maybe they think details about dry bones will bore the public.  Everybody wants to hear a good campfire story, whether or not it is true.  The more fanciful the better.  The next theory will be that dinosaurs could sing, dance and play chess (cartoon).
    Ezekiel told of a valley of dry bones that came to life (Ezekiel 37) but that was only a parable, and the resurrection occurred by intelligent design.  The evolutionists tell their stories as if they believe them to be literally true.  But can a consistent materialist conjure up behavior, motivation and intention from dry bones?  Bones are designed; tell the Darwinist who engages in such flights of fancy, “Get your own dirt.” (See joke).
    For those needing alternatives to the evolutionary interpretations of dinosaur bones, see the recent article in Answers magazine about sauropods, and in Journal of Creation about alleged “feathered dinosaurs.”
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsTerrestrial ZoologyEvolution
Geological Truisms Questioned   03/27/2007    
Nothing is a constant in scientific theories.  Popular ideas often wind up historical anecdotes.  What will happen to these two popular concepts?
  1. Snowball Earth Melts:  The idea that prior to the emergence of complex life the Earth was frozen over has been given the colorful title, “Snowball Earth.”  Scientists at Imperial College, London, are questioning whether this ever happened, according to EurekAlert.  They claim to have found evidence of repeated hot and cold cycles that would not have allowed Earth to undergo a prolonged period of freezing.  They also questioned it on thermodynamic grounds: “In fact, once fully frozen, it is difficult to create the right conditions to cause a thaw, since much of the incoming solar radiation would be reflected back by the snow and ice.” 
  2. Antarctic rivers drain Antarctic lakes:  Many scientists had speculated that lakes under Antarctic ice might hold pristine clues to the early Earth, and exotic forms of life.  Now they may have to take into account a paper in Science1 that found evidence these lakes are connected and drain from one to another as the ice cover shifts.  Images from space show that these lakes act like lubricants and rapidly shift the highly-pressurized subglacial ice around.  They cited instances: “Large outbursts of subglacial water have been observed in coastal regions,” and “Antarctic subglacial water can move in large volumes between lakes, on short time scales and over long distances.
        In conclusion, they remark that the water movements they detected are “large, extensive, and temporally variable.”  Big changes were seen within just 2-3 years.  “These observations provide clues to understanding the stability of ice streams through their sensitivity to basal lubrication,” they said.  “The time scale for subglacial water transport (months to years) is short compared with that of other known drivers of glacial flow variability, suggesting a mechanism for more rapid changes in ice stream behavior than have previously been assumed.”
It may be a hard sell, therefore, to claim that anything under the Antarctic remained stable for millions of years – or that we can know with any certainty what the Earth looked like before there were observers.
1Fricker, Scambos, Bindschadler and Padman, “An Active Subglacial Water System in West Antarctica Mapped from Space,” Science, 16 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5818, pp. 1544-1548, DOI: 10.1126/science.1136897.
Didn’t they ever hear of global warming?  Indeed, the science wars are heating up all over the world.
Next headline on:  Dating MethodsGeology
Can the Interior Design Itself?   03/26/2007    
Calling all interior designers: has Darwinism rendered you superfluous?  J. Scott Turner thinks so.  He wrote a book called The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself (Harvard, 2007).  It was reviewed by Claus Wedekind in last week’s Nature with the title, “The interior designer.”  This does not imply that interiors need an exterior designer, but that interiors can design themselves.
    Wedekind liked the book.  The basic idea is that design emerges without help from the tendency for self-organization and self-preservation.  Homeostasis is the property living things have to regulate themselves amidst a dynamic environment.  Feedback from the environment influences structures such that they self-adapt and co-evolve with the surroundings: these he calls Bernard machines after Claude Bernard, a contemporary of Darwin, “who emphasized the role of homeostasis in physiology.”
    Turner postulates that homeostasis is a common feature of life, giving rise to self-organizing and self-regulating machines from the level of cells and tissues to structures larger than an organism – or even a community of organisms.  Collagen fibers, embryonic tissues, antlers and termite mounds are some of the examples described in the book.  Termite mounds “not only capture wind to power ventilation but also regulate its capture.”  This makes a termite mound a self-organized, self-regulating structure, “an organ of homeostasis,” the idea goes.
    Homeostasis and natural selection work hand in hand, according to Turner.  He challenges Dobzhansky’s famous dictum that “nothing in biology makes sense apart from evolution,” replacing it with, “no attribute of life, including its evolution, really makes sense unless we view it through a physiological lens.”  Designers need not apply, in other words: physiology is the interior designer.  The agents of homeostasis “lead, largely by themselves, to the marvellous harmony of structure and function we observe in nature.
    How can elaborate structures emerge naturally, though, without intention?  Is intention real, or an illusion?  This is the question Wedekind asks:
This leads to the tantalizing question of whether darwinian evolution can dismiss intentionality.  Obviously, creative brains can cope better with an unpredictable world and may have a selective advantage, so creativity and intentionality can evolve and in turn influence evolution.  But does it really need a brain like ours to bring intentionality into play?  Turner views this question through a physiological lens and develops a picture of a modular brain that could be understood as a kind of ‘climax’ ecosystem with competing and coevolving cells, and with homeostasis as the organizing principle of cognition.  He argues that we intentionally design the world when our neural ecosystems generate ideas that then guide our bodies to reshape it.  The point is that the brain may be just one example of what Turner calls ‘persistors’ – persistent environments that are created by systems of Bernard machines and that have a process-based form of heritable memory.  ‘Darwin machines’ – replicators that have to prove themselves under natural selection – shape evolution in the absence of intentionality.  But the author argues that life and evolution happen when Darwin machines act in concert with Bernard machines, which are the agents of homeostasis and can be seen, in their own particular way, as goal-seeking and purposeful.  These are the ‘tinkerer’s accomplices’ of the title.
Wedekind seemed tickled with Turner’s witty prose.  He thinks that, despite its intellectual challenges, the book would give a motivational kick to physiology students.  “This important book is for those who search for an understanding of the various forms that life can take and of how life works.”  Such understanding serves another function.  Wedekind confessed a frustration that lured him to Turner’s thesis for relief:
Sharing a broadly accepted idea or philosophical concept comes with a danger: after a period of indulgence in mutual affirmation, it is easy to forget how to effectively defend the concept against a smart and captious critic.... evolutionary biologists can struggle to find their best arguments when challenged by a well-prepared enthusiast of ‘intelligent design’.

1Claus Wedekind, “The interior designer,” Nature 446, 375 (22 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446375a.
The Darwin Party heads keep sending out their novice debaters as if they think this puts the intelligent design Visigoths on edge.  The Visigoths in the camp outside are wondering, meantime, how such shallow logic could make it into Nature, the DP’s warfare manual.  Any undergrad logic student could show how self-refuting this thesis is.  The argument makes no sense even if one assumes evolution at the outset.  Each example from the living world Turner provides has intelligent design already built into the genetic code, not self-generated out of thin air.  And count the number of times mindless entities are personified in the quote above and the entire “interior designer” concept unravels.  It’s like we have to keep slapping the hands of the bumbling Darwin Party emissaries and reminding them, “You can’t say that.  That word is not in your vocabulary.  You can’t plagiarize our ID manual; we won’t let you get away with it.”  They never learn.  Maybe it’s a strategy; perhaps they believe a million novices can compensate for one philosopher.
    So with a smile and a snicker under our breath, we send back a greeting card into the Darwin Castle, wishing the best to the newlyweds, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Tinkerer’s Accomplice.  Father Charlie and Tinker Bell, surrounded by indulgent guests enjoying mutual affirmation, must be proud parents.  They probably hope Little Miss Tinker Bell Jr. will be able to zap the brooms the Apprentice unleashed and bring back order.  But we know what’s going to happen.  The brooms will douse the wand and carry on, submerging the Castle in a flood of entropy.  This makes our work so easy.  All we will have to do is mop up when the walls fall down.
Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignDarwinismOrigin of LifeDumb Ideas
Free Speech?  Not When Darwin Is at Stake   03/25/2007    
Radicals get away with saying or doing almost anything on campuses these days.  There’s one “radical” view, however, that even though believed by a majority of Americans, is sure to be met with outrage: creationism.  It doesn’t even have to be creationism.  Just to suggest that Darwin and his views might not be infallible is enough in some quarters to provoke outrage and censorship.
  • Oregon Trial:  A rapid ouster from the classroom was what biology teacher Kris Helphinstine faced when he dared question Darwinism before students in an Oregon high school.  According to Fox News, Helphinstine went out of his way to not to teach creationism.  His unforgivable sin, though, was to link Darwinism to Planned Parenthood and Nazi Germany in a Powerpoint presentation.  He explained, “Critical thinking is vital to scientific inquiry.  My whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking.”  Comparing President Bush to Nazis would probably not have gotten him in so much trouble.
        Helphinstine said he was trying to teach a point about bias in sources, but apparently he pushed his point too far.  When his optional supplemental material included some Biblical references, that was “not just a little bit over the line,” a school board member in the Bend, Oregon town said.  One parent complained that his presentation prevented his daughter from learning what she needed to learn.  Another asked, “How many minds did he pollute?”  It didn’t matter that Helphinstine has a master’s in science from Oregon State.  He was summarily fired after only 8 days on the job.
  • Don’t Bring that Stuff Here:  One would think an ostensibly Christian university would like to hear a good discussion about intelligent design (ID) vs evolution.  A “Darwin vs. Design” event is scheduled for next month (April 13-14) at Southern Methodist University (see  These are simple lecture events where PhD scientists share scientific evidence for design in nature.
        In a pre-emptive strike, though, “angry” professors “fired blistering letters to the administration, asking that the event be shut down,” reported Jeffrey Weiss for the Dallas News.  A taste of the anger from the Anthropology Dept.: “They have no place on an academic campus with their polemics hidden behind a deceptive mask,” begging the question of who is engaging in polemics.  “Similar letters were sent by the biology and geology departments,” Weiss said.
        What about free speech?  A college campus has its limits, apparently.  The scientists are calling for prior restraint, complaining that the event will give the “impression that Intelligent Design has support from scientists at the school.”  This “propaganda” event is causing “enormous discomfort” to the science professors, who feel that hosting ID proponents on campus is tantamount to “giving them legitimacy.
        The administration defended the event on free speech grounds while holding ID at arm’s length: “Although SMU makes its facilities available as a community service, and in support of the free marketplace of ideas, providing facilities for those programs does not imply SMU’s endorsement of the presenters’ views.
The Discovery Institute responded with a press release stating that the censorship attempts by the faculty exemplifies why such a conference is needed.  Bruce Chapman, President, reminded the critics that “Darwin himself wrote that ‘a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”  Evolution News, a blog of the Discovery Institute, keeps a running commentary on critics of intelligent design and their tactics.  Robert Crowther posted a response to the SMU protest for Evolution News.  For an idea of what’s coming to SMU, see the report on Knox News about the Darwin vs. Design conference that was just held Sat. March 24 at the Knoxville Convention Center in Tennessee.
If you are wagging your head right now at the intolerance of the Darwinists to debate the scientific evidence, and the degree of hostility to the idea of critical thinking about Darwin’s views, thank God.  You’re normal.  Not even Darwin would condone this irrational behavior.  Campuses routinely host the most outrageous, radical views in public, sponsored by the campus: lectures by homosexual activists or radical Islamists, without a peep.  You can denounce Bush as Hitler, spit on the Bible, make students act out Ramadan, wear cross-dressing clothes and use the other sex’s bathroom, and advocate euthanasia or bestiality, and reporters will yawn.  But mention the letters “ID” and you will not believe the hostility.  How can the open marketplace of ideas, especially at a nominally “Christian” university, condone prior restraint of the very core concepts (design in nature) that you would think Christians believe?  How can a public school, where kids’ lunch money still says “In God We Trust,” fire a teacher with a master’s degree in science for telling the truth that Darwinian evolution has clear historical linkages with Planned Parenthood and Nazi Germany? 
    These two stories show why the majority of people in this country, who still deny that life is the product of blind natural processes, had better wake up and get involved.  Has America gone down the tubes this far, that Biblical references in supplemental material from a teacher daring to question Darwin’s Supreme Authority is fired on the spot?  A century ago the McGuffey Readers in public schools openly included Bible references, Bible stories, and Biblical morals.  Now, this is called “polluting” the minds of students, while abortion, homosexuality, and radical Islam and communism are openly praised.  How did it come to this?  What were you doing to let this happen?  Not even Darwin or Voltaire or Hume would consider this a healthy situation.  Calm down, Darwinistas!  Get a life.  Cool your jets.  Take a breath.  Chill out.  Get a reality check.  Let’s put the best scientific evidence on the table and talk about it, OK?  You’ve had your turn at the rostrum for 148 years.  Let’s be nice, now, and take turns.
Next headline on:  EducationDarwinismIntelligent Design
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Monkeys Bang Rocks, Invent Culture   03/23/2007    
The venerable University of Cambridge earns this week’s prize for the following statements in a press release today:
New evidence of “human” culture among primates
23 March 2007
Research suggests that stone-banging by South American monkeys could be a socially-learned skill

Fresh evidence that suggests monkeys can learn skills from each other, in the same manner as humans, has been uncovered by a University of Cambridge researcher.
    Dr Antonio Moura, a Brazilian researcher from the Department of Biological Anthropology, has discovered signs that Capuchin monkeys in Brazil bang stones as a signalling device to ward off potential predators.
    While not conclusive, his research adds to a mounting body of evidence that suggests other species have something approaching human culture.

Some esteemed Cambridge grads of the past, such as James Clerk Maxwell, might have a little fun with this “suggestion.”  He might write a poem on whether the operation is commutative.  Could the converse operation hold as well: i.e., that the faculty and student body appear to be devolving toward monkey culture?
The depths of inanity to which Darwinian dogmatists will sink borders on insanity.  Monkey bangs rock.  Shakespeare can’t be far behind.  Will this line of argument fly at Oxford?  (On second thought... Dawkins territory...)
    There are two reasons why Darwinists get away with shameless nonsense in the press.  The first is because they have not learned shame.  Normal people, not infected with Delusia academia, should teach them the normal human blushing response.  A good bout of laughter can help.  Saturday Night Live should take this theory and run with it.  Calling all comedians: there’s a gold mine of joke material at Darwin Party Headquarters.
    The second reason they get away with nonsense is that the gutless press isn’t doing its job.  Science reporters, like fawning toadies, just gulp down the toad and regurgitate it onto the plate to dish out to the public.  We need a new generation of reporters who understand their role is not to parrot but to ferret.  Fire the current batch and send in some seasoned political reporters to face up to the academics, shove microphones in their faces, and ask questions like:
“How do you know that?  Mr. Moura, doesn’t it seem a little silly that rock-banging by monkeys could have anything to do with human culture?  What do you have to say to the majority of people who would disagree with your idea?  Don’t you feel it is a little bit reckless to take such a trivial behavior and extrapolate it onto human beings?  What about crows and parrots and dogs? (03/08/2007, bullets #2, #3).  Don’t they show much more elaborate signaling behavior than Capuchin monkeys?  Didn’t we learn that even ants can teach one another? (01/11/2006, bullet #3).  You wouldn’t suggest that human culture evolved from crows and ants now, would you?  Couldn’t the same reasoning be used to speculate that architecture evolved from beaver dams?  What makes rock-banging stand out as anything unusual in the animal kingdom?  How could your hypothesis be tested?  How could it be falsified?  Have you been fair to other explanations, or debated with scientists who disagree with your “suggestion”?  Isn’t science supposed to be about verification and justification of ideas?  If it is not conclusive, and only a suggestion, why not get to work in the lab until you can state something with more confidence?  Where is this mounting body of evidence you speak of?  Can you produce it so that our research team can see if any of it really does more than just speculate?  Have you, sir, seen the mounting body of evidence that Darwinism is on the decline?  And why, sir, are you spending your time speculating on such things instead of doing science that can make the world a better place?”
After this barrage (typical of the way political reporters treat the President), Mr. Moura needs to be put face-to-face on TV with a well-prepared and outspoken Darwin critic who can shoot down every suggestion he makes on scientific grounds, and with a philosopher of science who can express outrage at any attempt to draw such a grandiose extrapolation from such flimsy observations.
    Darwinism will slink away silently when the wise and sensible among us stand up to their bluff and demand scientific integrity or else.  Or else what?  Or else a room full of belly laughs.  Reporters, do your homework and come prepared to your next interview with a Darwinist.  Have a long list of hard-hitting questions and, as backup, a box of kazoos and party blowers.
Next headline on:  Early ManDumb Ideas
Lunar Dust Is Deadly   03/22/2007    
A significant fraction of lunar dust could pose deadly risks to future astronauts stationed on the moon, a BBC News report says.  About 1-3% of moon dust particles are too small to be coughed up or removed by the cilia lining the respiratory tract.  These would lodge in the lungs and become inflamed.  As in silicosis and asbestosis, the lung responds by building scar tissue around the particles, but this reduces the effective surface of the lungs for oxygen intake.
    The article has a microphoto of a dust grain that is filled with cavities, like swiss cheese.  These would have up to five times the surface area to interfere with the lungs.  Having jagged surfaces, they would be less likely to be captured by the sinus walls because of the way the particles would follow the path of the air.
    Another problem is with iron grains in 10-20 nanometer particles of lunar dust.  These “nano-phase iron” particles could be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and interfere with hemoglobin’s ability to absorb oxygen.  The fine dust was irritating to Apollo astronauts during their brief visits.  It got into everything and clung like powder.  The lunar rovers kicked up roostertails of dust.  Harrison Schmidt got a bout of “lunar dust hay fever” after returning to the lunar module.
    NASA would like to set up camp on the moon once again in the year 2020.  A Lunar Airborne Dust Toxicity Advisory Group has been working on the problems.  The article discusses techniques the team of medical doctors and scientists are developing to mitigate the hazards of lunar dust.  The iron can be extracted with magnets, for instance, and dust can be melted with microwaves into a kind of paved glass.  Robots may have to employ microwave guns, magnets, vacuums and filters to pave the way for human habitation.  Large amounts of lunar soil will need to be collected for a moon base for building materials, oxygen and hydrogen.  These actions might cause some fine dust to levitate above the surface, however, posing threats to scientific instruments and astronaut health.  Extracting and living on the moon’s “toxic” dust will be a major challenge for the next generation of human rovers.
There’s dust on Earth, too, but....  In most cases (except in man-made habitats like mines and in smoke-filled rooms), our bodies are tuned to the geology and geography and atmosphere.  The atmosphere transports large amounts of dust, but clouds and rain cleanse it and allow dust to solidify into rocks or be transported to the oceans.  Meanwhile, our sinuses, mucous membranes and sneeze responses trap and expel much of the dust that enters our airways, allowing most of us to enjoy many decades of healthy breathing.  Pushing the human body outside the envelope is teaching us many things we might otherwise take for granted.  It’s revealing an amazing degree of tuning of the body to its habitat.
    The moon is the same distance from the sun as Earth, but look how different it is.  Nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there for long.  The lack of sufficient mass to retain an atmosphere and allow liquid water makes all the difference in the world.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemHealth
Questions to Ask a Reductionist Neurobiologist   03/21/2007    
Can the totality of the brain be described in terms of its neurons?  Is consciousness an artifact of the movement of signals in the brain?  Can the complexity of the brain be described in terms of its evolutionary history?  Does the hardware define the software that runs on it? György Buzsáki attempted to address these questions from an evolutionary standpoint in a “Connections” essay in Nature last week.1
Perhaps nowhere is the truism ‘structure defines function’ more appropriate than for the brain.  The architecture of different brain regions determines the kinds of computations that can be carried out, and may dictate whether a particular region can support subjective awareness.  Also, the degree of architectural complexity may determine susceptibility to neurological and psychiatric diseases – complex architectural schemes being more prone to disruption than simpler ones.  Understanding how such structure-function relationships govern brain operations requires a systems-level approach that explores how local computation relates to global patterns of neural activity.
He went on to describe the different kinds of networks that parts of the brain can construct: local modules, as in the cerebellum; random connections, as in the hippocampus; and combination “scale-free” networks, as in the cerebral cortex.
    Though Buzsaki attempted to engage a systems approach, his answers were reductionist in the sense of describing all brain functions in terms of their physical architecture.  The “structure” of consciousness, therefore, in his view, is structurally based.  He did not speak as if this might challenge the validity of his own opinions on the subject.
1György Buzsáki, “Connections: The structure of consciousness,” Nature 446, 267 (15 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446267a.
It is one thing to measure, describe and understand the physical action of neurons, but quite another to reason about them.  If reason can be subsumed under the structure of neurons, how can I know it is reason?  If consciousness is merely an artifact of firing patterns in a network, how do I know I am not just dreaming?
    Whenever evolutionary neurobiologists, who are obligate physicalists, attribute consciousness and reason to networks of physical parts with a presumed evolutionary history, we need to ask them some pointed questions.  Let’s take some of his statements and play with them.
  • “I propose that the distinct network architectures translate into unique functional consequences.”
    Is a proposition an artifact of a hardware network, or does it have an external validity?
  • “In cortical networks, a dynamic balance between excitation and inhibition gives rise to an array of network oscillations involving neuronal populations of varying sizes.”
    Was that thought an excitation or an inhibition?  Suppose the pattern is different next time.  Will the first thought evaporate?
  • “This self-organized, or so called ‘spontaneous’ activity is the most striking and yet perhaps least appreciated feature of the cerebral cortex.”
    Where is the “appreciation module” in this structure?  How can it be appreciated if it is self-organized?  What is a self?  Whose self can demand that I appreciate something?
  • “Without inhibition, excitatory activity caused by any one stimulus would ripple across the entire neuronal network and a confused jumble of overlapping signals would result.”
    How would an observer of similar signals in a computer chip be able to reverse-engineer the software that produced it?  Would the engineer attempting the feat be an artifact of his own circuits?
  • Inhibitory interneurons and the rhythms they generate can temporally and spatially structure the activity of excitatory cell assemblies to ensure that information flows to just the right place at just the right time.”
    Please define “right” in this view.  This seems to imply goal-directed software that is directing the patterns.  What is information?  What directs the inhibitory neurons to inhibit, and when?  How can we know that the right inhibitions occured to generate your thoughts on this subject?  Would different inhibitory rhythms generate a completely different opinion?  If so, on what basis would other humans subject to their own rhythms decide that your opinion has more – or less – validity than that of a schizophrenic?
  • “The interaction and interference of multiple brain rhythms often gives rise to the appearance of ‘noise’ in an electroencephalogram.  This noise is the most complex type known to physics and reflects a metastable state between the predictable behaviour of oscillators and the unpredictability of chaos.”
    In a physicalist view, who determines what is noise and what is signal?
  • “A special case is the hippocampus whose highly recursive connection matrix is thought to function as a large ‘autoassociator’, allowing the reconstruction of entire episodes from remembered fragments.
    What does “is thought to” mean?  Who thinks?  Is thinking valid?  What is determining the end result of these associations to produce the “right” reconstruction?
  • “I suggest that the local-global wiring of the cerebral cortex and the perpetual, self-organized complex dynamics it supports are necessary ingredients for subjective experiences.”
    If experiences are artifacts of network activity, who decides what is subjective?  Could this statement itself be considered subjective?  Does objectivity exist?
  • “If they manage to perturb ongoing activity for a sufficiently long time in a big enough population of neurons, their effect will be noticed; that is, we will become conscious of them.”
    Whoa.  Define consciousness.  If my neurons focused on that sentence, and thought about it, how am I to know your proposition or my thoughts about it are verifiable? 
  • “Complex neuronal networks are a useful product of brain evolution but come at a price.  Greater resources and volume are required to sustain long-distance wiring in complex networks, and the risks of malfunction increase with complexity.”
    Please define useful.  Please define malfunction.  Can you defend the proposition that a mindless, aimless process of evolution will inevitably converge on truth and integrity?
  • “Timing errors present particularly difficult problems in complex networks, because of limits to how much information can be conveyed through restricted numbers of long-range conduits.  Not surprisingly, diseases of the cerebral cortex are manifold – including epilepsies, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.”
    What is information?  What is disease?  Is disease a continuum or an on-off state?  If the former, who decides at what point something is normal and something else is a timing error?  If the latter, and schizophrenics were in the majority, could they lock up the minority in the insane asylum?
  • “One of the greatest challenges left for systems neuroscience is to understand the normal and dysfunctional operations of the cerebral cortex by relating local and global patterns of activity at timescales relevant for behaviour.”
    Is a pattern of activity equivalent to consciousness?  Could the patterns of impulses in a mechanical machine wired like the brain and connected to a power source be considered conscious?  Would those patterns be able to judge the validity of your propositions, and if so, who would judge the debate?  Suppose a group of robots reasoned that their circuits had been designed, therefore the humans’ circuits must also have been designed; would you accept their verdict?
Here is another case of a scientist with the Yoda Complex (09/25/2006 commentary).  He stands at a pulpit outside of his own brain and speaks wisdom to the rest of us stuck inside our brains.  This is a technical foul.  He cannot play the game of trying to answer the age-old mind-body problem* unless he first acknowledges the independent validity of reason and the laws of logic.  If his subjective thoughts can be completely described by the firing of neurons and the timing of rhythms of excitory/inhibitory signals, then his opinions are self-refuting and necessarily false.  His own system, i.e., just crashed.  We’ve seen the Darwin malware do this many times.  The only solution in these cases is to reformat the hard drive, load the ID disk and reboot.
Next headline on:  Human BodyEvolution
*For news and commentary on neurobiology from an intelligent design perspective, see Denyse O’Leary’s blog The Mindful Hack.
Another “Complex and Powerful Molecular Motor”    03/20/2007  
DNA is an extremely long molecule that is packed into a very small space by tiny machines in the cell dedicated to this task.  After human cell division, the molecules are wound tightly into coils that are in turn wound into loops.  These coils and loops make up a chromosome that we see under the microscope in the nucleus of a cell.
    In Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage Phi-29 the DNA molecule is packed after cell division into a hollow shell  by a unique machine.  The way that this machine works was the subject of investigation by a team of scientists.  Competing theories had the machine either rotating the DNA strands as it packed them into the shell, or just pushing them in.  Researchers attached tiny magnets to the ends of the DNA strands to stretch them out, and attached fluorescent tags onto the DNA strands to determine if the strands were being rotated.  The results of the study found no rotation:
How, then, does it happen? The researchers noted that their findings are compatible with a recently proposed nonrotating model in which the ring of ATPases alternately compresses and extends, drawing the DNA in—a bit like what your mouth might do if you had to eat a plateful of spaghetti with your hands tied behind your back.
  A description of the project is published online in Public Library of Science.1  The article begins, “You probably never tried to put toothpaste back into the tube, but if you did, you’d have a good idea of what the Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage phi-29 experiences as it crams its DNA into a protein capsid shell following replication.”
    For a related story on a molecular machine in a bacteriophage, see this press release from Purdue University.
1Hoff M (2007) Does Bacteriophage Phi-29 Pack Its DNA with a Twist? PLoS Biol 5(3): e91 Public Library of Science,  published online: February 20, 2007; doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050091.
Another amazing machine shows up in the cell just for the purpose of packing DNA.  Rings of ATP alternately compress to push strands of DNA into a cellular storage container for safe keeping.  The author describes the machine as “a complex and powerful molecular motor,”  and truly it is.  Perhaps evolutionists could explain how the cell managed before this complex machine accidentally appeared on the scene to deal with the great wad of DNA that must have been getting in the way of the operation of the cell.  The author gives us no clue: evolution is not mentioned once in the article.
Next headline on:  GeneticsAmazing Facts
  Biggest cosmic mysteries of 2003, from 03/25/2003.  No more understanding after four years, and arguably less (cf. 03/08/2007).

Missing Link, or Just Jawboning About Ear Evolution?   03/19/2007    
Tetrapod vertebrates (four-footed animals with backbones) comprise a dizzying array of species, both living and extinct.  When is it justifiable to arrange different forms into an ancestral evolutionary sequence, especially when some members are extinct and others are still alive today?  On what basis can scientists claim that a discovery demonstrates evolution?  Some Chinese scientists entered their latest attempt to exhibit a missing link.  They discovered a fossilized “primitive” mammal they claim fills a gap in the evolution of the mammalian middle ear.  Their paper was published last week in Nature.1  A press release from the National Science Foundation reproduced on EurekAlert emphasized the evolutionary message: “This early mammalian ear from China is a rosetta-stone type of discovery which reinforces the idea that development of complex body parts can be explained by evolution, using exquisitely preserved fossils,” said Richard Lane of the NSF.  The lead author said, “This new fossil offers a rare insight in the evolutionary origin of the mammalian ear structure.”  He also said, “Yanoconodon clearly shows an intermediate condition in the evolutionary process of how modern mammals acquired their middle ear structure.”  Nothing in the press release indicated anything short of complete vindication for evolutionary theory with this find.
    Zhe-Xi Luo et al described a new eutriconodont mammal species, Yanoconodon, they found in the fossil-rich province of Liaoning, China.  After providing the customary description and classification sections, they attempted to explain two observations.  First and most notable was the structure of the middle ear.  They claimed it represents a clear transitional form between the attached bones of mammaliaformes (“mammal-like reptiles”) and detached middle ear bones of mammals.  Second, they noted the extra vertebra (26 instead of 19 for most mammals, and 22 for the nearest relative) and the presence of lumbar ribs, unusual for mammals but present in some widely-separated groups.  This they explained by convergent evolutionary manipulation of Hox genes that govern the divisions of the vertebral column (sacrum, ilium, lumbar) and the presence or absence of lumbar ribs.  Experiments on lab rats show that these traits can be manipulated by knockout or overexpression of these master-switch regulatory genes.
    There is no clear evolutionary transition in the vertebral characteristics.  The authors noted that Yanoconodon’s nearest alleged relative, Jeholodens, lacks lumbar ribs.  Moreover, they found another pair of relatives on a different branch, one that has lumbar ribs and one that doesn’t.  For an animal to have 26 vertebra is “exceptional,” they said; the only other one is Repenomamus, a dog-size Cretaceous mammal that preyed on dinosaurs.
    The focus of the paper, though, was on the middle ear bones.  The authors went into great detail to try to establish Yanoconodon as a transitional form.  In the evolutionary scenario, primitive mammals emerged from reptiles with the bones at the rear of the jaw still attached to the jaw.  Over evolutionary time, the rear bones began to gradually separate from the back of the jaw.  Presumably, this gave some advantage to hearing because the incipient middle ear bones (ossicles), the hammer, anvil and stirrup (or malleus, incus and stapes) were more free to vibrate.  Eventually, the ossicles became completely separated from the jaw as in modern mammals and were devoted solely to hearing.  The authors identified parts they called malleus and incus, but did not find a stapes.
    In support of the story, the authors found that in Yanoconodon the ossicles had partially detached, remaining connected to the jaw only by an ossified Meckel’s cartilage.  Further, the malleus and incus bore a resemblance to the completely-detached ossicles of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus paradoxus), a fur-bearing monotreme.  They also pointed out that platypus ossicles emerge during development with an attachment to the jaw via Meckel’s cartilage, then become detached later.  The arrangement in Yanoconodon, they said, may be pedomorphic – a case of “arrested development” in which the embryonic attachment was maintained into adulthood.
    So that’s the story.  How good a transition is it?  The well-known skeptic and pseudoscience fighter James Randi thought this was ”very cool” as a demonstration of evolution.  He gave it a big write-up at his James Randi Educational Foundation where he reproduced the figures from the original paper.  The figure he left out, however, is the cladogram (phylogenetic tree), which, surprisingly, shows “homoplasies [convergent evolution] of DMME [definite mammalian middle ear] in basal mammals” in six places on the tree.  One of them is Hadrocodium, a lower Jurassic mammal lacking some of the typical features of mammals but having a complex hearing system (see  Does this mean that an even less derived species had mammal-like middle ear bones, separated from the jaw?  If so, Yanoconodon is too late to be considered a transitional form.  Randi displayed some ignorance of modern evolutionary theory by using the pedomorphy hypothesis to conjure up the ghost of Haeckel: “It’s one module in development that flaunts a lovely example of embryonic recapitulation of evolutionary history,” his article boasts.  (Recapitulation is dismissed by most Darwinists these days.)
    The authors of the original paper did not even claim that Yanoconodon represents a straight-line evolution from attached middle ear to separate middle ear.  It represents, rather, a possible pedomorphic characteristic capable of two different evolutionary explanations.  The placement of Yanoconodon in an evolutionary sequence also required a tool that maximizes “parsimony” (simplicity) between competing possibilities of phylogenetic trees when all the characteristics are analyzed.  In the technical explanation below, keep in mind that homoplasy refers to convergent evolution – similar traits appearing in unrelated groups.

Yanoconodon and its eutriconodontan kin are nested within the crown Mammalia (Fig. 2) by the parsimony of all characters.  The absence of DMME [definite mammalian middle ear] in eutriconodonts, an in-group of crown Mammalia, is in sharp contrast to modern monotremes [like Platypus] and therians [more derived mammals, including marsupials and placentals] that have DMME.  This phylogeny requires one of the following two evolutionary scenarios: either (1) DMME was present in the common ancestor of monotremes, eutriconodonts and therians; but eutriconodonts re-evolved the middle ear attachment to mandible, or (2) DMME was absent in the common ancestor of monotremes, eutriconodonts and therians, and this is retained as a paedomorphosis in eutriconodonts; but DMME evolved in extant monotremes, and separately in therians.  Paedomorphosis, or retention of fetal or juvenile characteristics of ancestors and relatives through developmental heterochrony [differences in developmental rates], is a common phenomenon in vertebrate evolution.  The heterochronic (‘premature’) ossification of Meckel’s cartilage in eutriconodonts is the immediate cause for this paedomorphic connection of middle ear and mandible, and is why there is an overall homoplastic distribution among therians (with DMME), eutriconodonts (without DMME), monotremes (with DMME) and pre-mammalian relatives (without DMME) (triangles in Fig. 2).  The paedomorphic connection of the middle ear to mandible of eutriconodonts and mammaliaforms is consistent with their lack of the long-bone epiphyses for terminating skeletal growth, as seen in modern mammals.
Clearly, they are favoring scenario 2.  The cost, though, is to believe that definite mammalian middle ear (DMME) evolved twice – once in monotremes (platypus), and separately in therian mammals.  Maybe that’s why the editors of Nature hedged a little in their praise of this paper:2
The formation of the three tiny bones of the middle ear from components of the reptilian lower jaw was a key event in mammalian evolution.  Never before has this transition been seen so clearly as in a primitive fossil mammal found recently in a new locality of the Yixian Formation in China, 300 km west of the classic sites in Liaoning.  In this specimen the middle-ear bones remain connected to the lower jaw by Meckel’s cartilage – a transition associated with a corresponding remodelling of the lower back.  But the situation is not as clear-cut as it seems.  The evolutionary relationships of the fossil suggest that either the ‘modern’ middle ear evolved twice, independently or that it evolved and was then lost in at least one ancient lineage.
The complexity of the situation did not stop the authors from ending their paper on a triumphant Darwinian note.  Speaking only about the vertebral column in their fossil, they felt that juggling Hox genes provides “a plausible mechanism for the evolutionary patterns” in lumbar ribs and numbers of vertebra.  Again, homoplasy (convergent evolution) comes to the rescue: either the uneven patterns of lumbar ribs in the phylogenetic tree arose because they had similar functions, or were lost in others for the same reason.  In conclusion, they felt they had illustrated “two cases for extrapolating the Hox gene patterning of laboratory mice to early mammal phylogeny on a grand evolutionary scale.
1Zhe-Xi Luo, Peiji Chen, Gang Li, and Meng Chen, “A new eutriconodont mammal and evolutionary development in early mammals,” Nature 446, 288-293 (15 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05627.
2Editor’s summary, “An early look at mammals,” Nature 446:7133.
Evolutionary papers are like contracts: the bold print giveth, and the fine print taketh away.  Darwin just handed us a reverse mortgage without telling us the benefits are all coming from a reduction of equity [equity n.: fairness, impartiality, justice].  James Randi performed his glitzy commercial like James Garner, touting all the wonderful benefits of evolutionary reverse mortgages, but we just read the fine print and found the alleged benefits overpowered by serious problems.
    Anyone who thinks explanations just “jump right out of the data” should listen to the Philosophy of Science lecture series from the Teaching Company.  Jeffrey Kasser shows that it is devilishly hard to prove the simplest scientific statement, such as “all copper conducts electricity” by either deduction, induction, empiricism or anything else.  In a related course from the Teaching Co., Steven Goldman shows how philosophers have struggled for centuries with the question of whether the observations of our senses actually tell us anything about the real world.  If such basic and simple explanations about things right under our noses that we take for granted cannot be established with certainty, how much less inferences about the unseen past?  The issues of proof and explanation are far more difficult and complex than most people realize.
Did you know, for instance, that David Hume in the 18th century argued that induction provides no justification for explanation or prediction, that we do not “see” causes, and that philosophers of science have never answered his challenge successfully?  Did you know that Karl Popper essentially dismissed induction as having anything to do with scientific explanation?  Did you know that induction is not necessary to discover anything in science, and that deduction has about as many problems as induction?  How about the facts that philosophy of science since the heady days of logical positivism in the 1930s has become a welter of conflicting opinions between realists and anti-realists and every position in between, with no one being able to define with any justification what constitutes an observation, let alone a scientific explanation or theory? 
It would do you good to struggle with some of these issues for awhile before evaluating a paper claiming to have found a transitional form in Darwin’s storyland.
    Surprisingly, the usual Darwin propaganda outlets who usually go ape over every missing link story didn’t seem to pay this claim much attention.  Maybe they realized critics could easily shoot it down.  We’re going to display this as an example, though, to educate our readers on how to evaluate such claims in general.  OK, so a four-legged fossil animal was found.  There are lots of four-legged fossil animals.  What right does anyone have to arrange them into an ancestral sequence?  What justification is there for the implication that complex hearing bones were evolving by a naturalistic, aimless, pointless, purposeless process, with advanced mammalian hearing as the product?  If you take away the evolutionary assumption, no such inference jumps out of the observations.
    To see why, visualize a 3-dimensional plot with data points scattered throughout like dust particles in the air.  Here and there, some seem to cluster together, but no obvious trend reveals itself.  How can one justify drawing lines through the dots that show an ancestral tree pattern?  An almost infinite number of patterns could connect the dots.  What right does one scientist have to claim his pattern is the “true” pattern that tells what actually happened before there were observers?
    One needs to understand the Darwinist process of drawing phylogenetic trees, because the story really breaks down right there.  These scientists used a “maximum parsimony” computer program to produce their tree.  Why did they select that?  They could have chosen instead to use “maximum likelihood” or Bayesian analysis, or some yet-to-be-discovered new method that will enjoy fad status for awhile.  Even so, the method they used required choosing between 218 equally parsimonious trees.  For those who need proof how arbitrary this process is, read the following quote from the paper:
This is based on the strict consensus of 218 equally parsimonious trees of PAUP (Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony and Other Methods, version 4.0b) analysis of 436 characters (1,000 heuristic runs with unordered multi-state characters) that can be scored for 102 comparative taxa (97 mammaliaforms including 25 extant mammals, plus three cynodonts as outgroups).  For each equally parsimonious tree, tree length = 2,188, consistency index = 0.375, retention index = 0.803.
What would happen if they included different organisms as outgroups, or lightened the consistency requirements, or used some other criterion for establishing the consensus?  How much was the result dependent on the way the traits of the various organisms were described by others?  To what extent were evolutionary assumptions embedded in all the data to start with?  Anyone thinking that The One and Only True Tree came out of this exercise is a good customer for the next beachfront property sale on the Isle of DeBris.
    We have reported previously (07/25/2002, 10/01/2005) that all such trees are compromises between contradictory data points, and therefore represent human assumptions imposed on the data, not independently-verifiable patterns that exist “out there” in some value-free, assumption-free Logicland.  This is an important fulcrum of this discussion; all the team’s inferences about evolutionary transitions hinge on the validity of their phylogenetic tree.  But their tree is a product of human imagination, not a fact of history.  Understand that and the whole paper falls apart.  The only thing that is left is an unusual fossil that fits who-knows-where into some scheme by who-knows-who about who-knows-what that happened who-knows-when.  Insert your guess here.  It can be considered just as valid as anyone else’s, including the one in this paper.
    Suppose you sent four different teams into a grocery market on a mission to read the ingredients on every box of processed food and arrange them all into a phylogenetic tree.  The hapless victims would soon find themselves making arbitrary decisions among a mess of complications.  One group might try to locate all the products containing lecithin, while another would use statistical analysis based on percentages of recommended daily allowances of vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.  A third team might approach the problem by sorting everything according to texture, color, odor or some other physical characteristic, while the last team would feel confident they had the final answer, because a clear phylogenetic pattern emerged when they arranged the products by geometrical shape.  Cheerios evolved from granola, they say.
    Each team has its own concept of a phylogenetic tree, and has plenty of evidence to support it.  Which one is right?  Clearly, none is right.  In this contrived case, all the products were created by intelligent design.  Arranging designed items into an evolutionary pattern is an exercise in futility.  General Mills can produce both cheerios and granola.  But even if nobody knew the products were designed, arranging them into an ancestral tree pattern would be hopelessly messy.  Group one might get a good-looking pattern arranged by lecithin content, only to find that separate branches have members with and without coconut.  Scratching their heads, they might wonder if the coconut evolved by convergent evolution (homoplasy), or whether the coconut was present in the common ancestor but was lost in various lineages and retained in others.  No amount of energy, enthusiasm, diligence and detail is going to justify what inferences these researchers are making.  They are just playing games.  Data notwithstanding, the patterns they are producing are nothing but mythical constructions of their own imaginations.
    This illustration helps answer a counter-argument from some Darwinists.  They complain that every time they produce a good transitional form, creationists allege that two more are produced: one on each side of the transitional form.  Such a complaint is bogus, because it embeds a prior evolutionary assumption.  It presupposes a linear sequence.  The “missing link” terminology misleads the reader into visualizing a straight line, with an early “primitive” animal, a later “derived” animal with complex features (like detached middle-ear bones), and a gap in between that the evolutionist triumphantly fills in with his new transitional form.  Toss out that picture, because it is nothing like what is found in either the fossil record or the zoo.  Recall the supermarket or the 3-dimensional plot with scattered data points.  No amount of new data points or processed food products added to the mix will justify inferring an evolutionary pattern.  It cannot be done.  Unless you already assume that the data points or the supermarket products evolved, you cannot convince a critic that the data imply an ancestral relationship, and you could never convince a well-trained philosopher of science that you are justified in making such an inference.  Conversely, there is no way an evolutionist can deny the creationists’ inference that God created a wide variety of creatures, and gave each the kind of bones and ears and ribs and toes that it needed for its ecological niche.  Bring up plesiomorphies (close similarities), and he could answer that a certain amount of sorting out of characters occurred since the creation, but no new information was added.  Prove him wrong.
    So is Yanoconodon a transitional form on the “grand evolutionary scale” of life?  On what basis could anyone make such a claim?  There are plenty of contradictions in the story.  For one thing, if Hadrocodium already had a DMME, then Yanoconodon surely wasn’t inventing it for the first time.  Considering this skeleton to be a new species is fraught with difficulties in the first place.  You can’t tell whether a fossil is reproductively isolated from other fossils.  How do they know it was not some other animal whose skeleton got deformed in the fossilization process?  What is a “species” anyway, if not a human concept imposed on a bewildering array of complicated data?  Why do some of its features show up in some distant branches, but some not show up in its alleged closest relative?  How do they know the developmental stage of this fossil?  Maybe it was a juvenile and its ossified Meckel’s cartilage had not yet dissolved.  How much can you tell about the morphology, lifestyle and complexity of an animal from its bones?  Imagine the surprise if these scientists had classified a platypus knowing only the skeleton, and then were shown a living one, with its duck bill, poison spur, electrical sensors, specialized fur and numerous other advanced characteristics.
    The paper is filled with jargon (plesiomorphy, apomorphy, pedomorphy, heterochrony, homoplasy), but no amount of hand-waving justifies their interpretation.  Jargon is, at best, a convenience for those playing the game; at worst, it is bluffing and obfuscation.  Most important, their story is based on the flimsiest piece of ossified cartilage and says nothing about how a complex system of hearing, employing finely-tuned ossicles, evolved.  The complexity of mammal hearing is staggering.  The ability of tympanic membranes and ossicles and cochleae to amplify the minutest pressure waves in air is breathtaking in its efficiency.  But then, the body has to be able to transmit that information to the brain, process it and respond to it.  Hearing cannot be evaluated on the basis of an ossified bit of cartilage.  It must be understood in context of the whole process of hearing, and how it fits into the lifestyle and survival of the entire organism.  Darwinian theory disallows teleology or goal-seeking behavior.  A consistent Darwinist must erase from his theory any suggestion that these tetrapods somehow “wanted” to evolve advanced sound systems by modifying their jaws.  Each tiny alteration, wrought by mistake, would have had to confer a selective advantage with sufficient benefit to outcompete all the population lacking it.  Remove the assumption of evolution and the story becomes implausible to the point of absurdity.
    There is a somewhat trusted method of scientific reasoning called inference to the best explanation.  It is not infallible, but applied to the complex design of the mammalian ear, would certainly prefer the design explanation over the chance explanation.  A corollary would be that simpler animals would be designed with simpler equipment.  This would provide a “top-down” approach, similar to explaining supermarket products as all designed, with some complex products designed for formal dinners and simpler ones for snacks.  Scientifically and logically, the “top-down” explanation is just as valid as the “bottom-up” explanation.  For those not already blinded by Darwin dogma, most people, we expect, would feel the design inference much better supported by the evidence.
Next headline on:  FossilsMammalsEvolution
Everything You Thought You Knew Was Right but Was Told Was Wrong that Turns Out to be Right After All Dept:  03/18/2007   
Chalk one up for common sense: manly men survive better after injury, says a press release from Univ. of Minnesota.  This finding was reported also on Live Science, which said, “The man-of-steel mentality, often associated with military men and those in other high-risk occupations, can boost and speed up a guy’s recovery from a serious and/or traumatic injury possibly.”
But where does the following claim come from? “The immediate message here is to encourage psychotherapy...”  Images of the Aflac duck come to mind.  What psychotherapists lack in credibility, they make up for in comedy (laugh-lack, laugh-lack).
Meanwhile, guys, hang tough.  But don’t get proud; remember, women endure... CHILDBIRTH!
Next headline on:  Health
Did Mars Have a Global Flood?   03/18/2007    
There’s enough ice under Mars’ southern polar cap to flood the entire planet under 36 feet of water, reports Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  The MARSIS radar instrument on the ESA-NASA Mars Express determined that the ice cap is more than 2 miles thick in places.  According to the report on National Geographic News, traces of possible impact craters were detected under the ice cap.  If so, it would seem the ice must have melted and been distributed around the planet in the past.  The article also states that even this huge volume of ice is believed to be a fraction of H2O on the red planet that has been lost underground or out to space.
    Speaking of water reservoirs, a new source was found back on the home planet.  A press release from Washington State Univ. in St. Louis last month inferred from seismic data the presence of a water reservoir deep in the mantle under Asia equal to the volume of the Atlantic Ocean.
Mars could never have had a global flood.  Where did the water come from?  Where did it go?  This kind of reasoning has been used against Noah’s flood on Earth.  Mars is dry today, and liquid water could not last on the surface, but that doesn’t stop geologists from eagerly searching for water on the red planet.  With great interest they include copious volumes of liquid water into their theories of Mars history, hoping the precious elixir of life would have permitted the emergence of single-celled Martians.  OK, then why shouldn’t the possibility of a global flood on Earth be treated seriously?  The answer is that for a long time, secular geology has written off the Bible as a source of information about Earth’s past.
    The secular geology of Hutton and Lyell was more an emotional, theological reaction against Biblical flood geology than an inference from data.  Creation and the Flood were rarely questioned for thousands of years till Enlightenment secularists felt the need to remove God from an active role in the world He created.  They wanted a world with “no hint of a beginning, no prospect of an end” (Hutton) that would operate slowly and gradually by natural processes alone (see AIG articles about Hutton and Terry Mortenson’s explanation of the origin of old earth beliefs).  Notice that this was a preference, an a priori belief that colored the way they looked at the world.  Uniformitarianism became dominant by 1830 in England largely due to the anti-Biblical, deistic views of Charles Lyell (a lawyer).*  That was before 20th century scientists decided Lyell was wrong (and fudged his data; see 10/25/2006).  Now, catastrophism is back in vogue (05/22/2003).
    Frank Sherwin at ICR quips that we really shouldn’t call our planet Earth; we should call it Water.  That would make for interesting conversation.  “Life is beautiful on God’s blue Water.” • “I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man on Water.” • “Where on Water have you been all this time?”  On a planet whose surface is 70% water, with ocean basins miles deep, there’s plenty enough to submerge the Earth (whoops, the Water) under the right circumstances, if the mountains were lower and the ocean basins shallower before the Flood.  Models of the Flood like those of Walter Brown and John Baumgardner et al. typically include orogeny (mountain building) and deepening of the ocean basins as consequences of the catastrophic deluge.  Also, the “fountains of the great deep” are the primary sources of the water, with rain as the effect.  That answers where the water came from, and where it went.  Let’s not treat the planets by a double standard.  That happens enough on Water as it is.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeology
*Even the late anti-creationist paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould recognized this:
Charles Lyell was a lawyer by profession, and his book is one of the most brilliant briefs ever published by an advocate ... Lyell relied upon true bits of cunning to establish his uniformitarian views as the only true geology.  First, he set up a straw man to demolish.  In fact, the catastrophists were much more empirically minded than Lyell.  The geologic record does seem to require catastrophes; rocks are fractured and contorted; whole faunas are wiped out.  To circumvent this literal appearance, Lyell imposed his imagination upon the evidence.  The geologic record, he argued, is extremely imperfect and we must interpolate into it what we can reasonably infer but cannot see.  The catastrophists were the hard-nosed empiricists of their day, not the blinded theological apologists” [i.e., like Lyell].  Gould, Natural History, Feb. 1975, pp. 16–17 (see ICR).
Imposing one’s imagination upon the evidence: sound familiar? (01/17/2007).
  Where did Earth get its water? from 03/26/2002.

Have Scientists Found the Secret of Aging?   03/17/2007    
There’s a tragic disease that speeds up aging.  Known as progeria (Huntington-Gilford progeria syndrome, HGPS), it is caused by a single point mutation in exon 11 of the NMLA gene.  Children afflicted with this disease look old beyond their years and often die at 13 of heart attack and stroke – essentially, of old age.
    A team of scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), publishing in PNAS,1 investigated the results of this mutation.2  They found that the gene builds a mutant lamin-A protein named progerin/LA-delta-50 that lacks the cleavage site to remove a string of RNA during protein synthesis.  As a result, when it comes time for the cell to divide, “During interphase, irreversibly farnesylated progerin/LA-delta-50 anchors to the nuclear membrane and causes characteristic nuclear blebbing” [i.e., bulging].  This causes “abnormal chromosome segregation and binucleation.”
    The NIH team followed up on a recent study that small amounts of the mutant protein are found in normal fibroblasts (cells that give rise to connective tissues, like collagen).  They wondered if this is implicated in the normal aging process.  We all have a tiny amount of this mutant protein, the studies suggest.  Fortunately, anti-progerin antibodies monitor our connective tissues looking for giant nuclei and cells with two nuclei, and induce them to self-destruct (apoptosis).
    What appears to go wrong, though, is that some of the mutant cells get through the defenses.  The team believes that there is some kind of “irreversible switch” in late-passage cells, allowing the cryptic splice to proceed, “initiating a series of events that lead to mitotic defects and ultimate senescence.”  If this is true, we all have progeria.  The unfortunate victims of HGPS just have a faster version.  Here’s their conclusion:

In summary, our studies demonstrate the abnormal membrane association and dynamic behavior of progerin/LA-delta-50 during mitosis, which lead to aberrant chromosome segregation in both HGPS and normal cells.  These observations further implicate progerin/LA-delta-50 in the normal aging process, suggesting that the same molecular mechanisms responsible for the mitotic defects in HGPS may also act at a low level in normal cells at higher passage.  Taken together with results of previous studies, these data add increasing confidence to the long-held assumption that the study of genetic forms of premature aging can shed important light on the normal process of aging.
One of the co-authors of the paper is Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project.  Dr. Collins is a church-going, born-again Christian whose recent book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, expounded his own theistic-evolution position on origins.
1Cao, Capell, Erdos, Djabali, and Collins, “A lamin A protein isoform overexpressed in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome interferes with mitosis in progeria and normal cells,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0611640104, published online before print March 14, 2007.
2“This mutation does not cause an amino acid change (G608G), but partially activates a cryptic splice donor site and leads to the in-frame deletion of 150 bp within the prelamin A mRNA.  This truncated prelamin A mRNA is then translated into a protein recently named progerin/LA-delta-50. The Zmpste24/FACE1 cleavage site is missing in progerin/LA-delta-50 because of the internal 50-aa [amino acid] deletion, so that progerin/LA-delta-50 retains the C-terminal farnesylation.”
Though we reject Collins’ position on theistic evolution, we respect his epochal work on the human genome and this study that may shed light on normal aging while helping children afflicted with HGPS.  The idea that God somehow front-loaded all the design into the beginning and let it all evolve from there has three problems.  First, it won’t keep the Darwinists from criticizing him, because it does not contain the chance element essential to Darwinian philosophy.  Second, it cannot be true, because it would require either a strict determinism that runs counter to our knowledge of quantum physics or else would require 24x7 intervention by God to guide the evolutionary process.  Third, the evidence is against it.  Fossil and molecular evidence both fail to illustrate a gradual unfolding of complexity.  But we digress; these issues have been taken up in vibrant debates in the creation and ID community during Collins’ recent book tours and interviews by the press (see example of Evolution News).
    Think about this finding.  Though it would be reckless to conclude too much about aging at this point in our knowledge, nothing so far is inconsistent with the Biblical view that death is an abnormality.  Physical aging appears linked to the accumulation of defects.  It was not, therefore, part of the original perfect design.  Normally, these defects would be prevented by all the elaborate quality-control mechanisms in the body.  Something has gone wrong.  This is not the way God originally designed the world.
    When the first man and woman sinned, according to Genesis, they were expelled from the Garden and the Tree of Life.  God had warned them that the day they disobeyed they would surely die.  Theologically, they became separated from God at once (spiritual death).  Physically, though, all God had to do was loosen the quality control in the genes, or prevent the constant physical renewal that might have occurred prior to the curse, either as a result of the direct fellowship with God (who is Life), or with a secondary source of renewal He provided (the Tree of Life).  The curse, then was denial of access to the ongoing source of life.  To be dead is to be disconnected from the source of life.  Pick a flower and it dies immediately, though it continue to show its outward beauty for a few days.  The human body was left to “coast” with its own internal repair mechanisms.  Incredibly reliable and sophisticated as these are, they cannot stop all the ravages of decay.  Physical death was only a matter of time.
    The good news is that God has turned the curse into an opportunity to bless us even more than before.  Think of how tragic it would be to live forever in a fallen physical state, separated from God for eternity.  The Creator came into this world to suffer the curse of death, that He might redeem us from death – we who are dead in sin, and enemies (read Ephesians).  As Judge of the universe, He could have killed the rebels immediately.  Why did he give us time?  Because He is patient and merciful, He gives each individual a measure of time unknown to anyone but Himself.  Were we each to know our time, most would postpone repentance till the last minute.  Not knowing, we can never escape the possibility every moment that this could be the day our soul is required of us.
    Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15).  These Christian doctrines will be celebrated by millions during the upcoming Easter season.  By faith we can accept His sacrifice on our behalf.  He promises to those who come to Him that we will live again with Him in a new creation, where there is no more curse.  Our bodies will age and die, but as the apostle Paul said, for the Christian “death is swallowed up in victory.”  Our bodies go to the grave, like seeds in the earth, only to sprout into a new creation by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
    Having died and rose again, Christ has become the first fruits of a harvest that will share in that resurrection.  With this blessed hope, we can work on earth with steadfastness and joy, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor. 15:58).  The most stark difference of all between Biblical creationists and secular evolutionists is right here.  Where are we going?  And how should we live?  To the secularist, there is only aging, death, decay and the ultimate cessation of all activity in a pointless universe that generated life for nothing.  For the Christian, the outlook is totally different.  It is filled with joy and purpose.  In the new creation (Revelation 21), there is no more curse, sorrow, aging, or death, but access to the Tree of Life forever in the city of God.  This gives purpose and joy and direction to life.  In the Lord, our labor is not in vain.
    If you are an evolutionist and have been reading these pages, perhaps you have been struggling with the increasing evidence that the case for evolution is going poorly, and that the universe and life really do appear designed for a purpose.  Defend materialism as you might during your healthy days, none of the intellectual arguments will matter much when the aging process catches up with you.  While there is time, while there is hope, will you not think seriously about these things?  Consider again the evidence of design (e.g., this article).  Maybe you’ve been reading our pages for years, and maybe you are finding the evidence compelling, but the reality of God has not gotten from your head to your heart.  The Bible tells that the all-wise Creator who alone can explain the complexity and design in the world has revealed Himself in His word and in person, in His Son Jesus Christ – the Lord.  Christ died for you.  2000 years ago, He walked this earth, was crucified in Jerusalem, a city with geographical coordinates we know.  After His resurrection, He appeared in Jerusalem, Emmaus, and Galilee, at places you can visit.
    This is not some fable.  Evolutionists tell just-so stories that can never be checked by observation, but the Bible can be corroborated historically (see, for example, the video clips from Lee Strobel on The Bible and Christ).  History shows that a band of frightened fishermen and commoners in Jerusalem were transformed and changed the world.  How?  What made the apostles willing to travel the world, suffer torture and persecution, each one dying as a martyr without flinching to the death?  The only answer that makes sense is that they saw the risen Christ and became changed men.  The followers of Christ, both men and women, received the power of his Holy Spirit, as He had promised, to become His witnesses to all people, nations, tribes and languages (Acts 1).
    That same risen Lord Jesus Christ is alive today.  Patiently He waits for you to accept His offer of pardon and new life.  Why delay any longer?  Today could be your passage from inevitable death to eternal life.
    For further help, here is a brief explanation of God’s plan of salvation, and here is where to find more help at Christian Answers.  The most detailed Biblical passages on God’s plan of redemption are Paul’s letter to the Romans and the epistle to the Hebrews; a shorter, simpler explanation can be read in I John.  If you have decided to follow Christ, we would like to hear from you confidentially at our feedback line.  Take your knowledge to the point of commitment – do it today.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsHealthBible and Theology
Cell Calcium Channel: Meet Me at the Gate   03/16/2007    
All cells use calcium ions for signalling.  The ions flow through specialized gates in the plasma membrane.  Inside the cell, receptors line the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a kind of subway system where finishing work on proteins is done.  How do the two get together?  They arrange a meeting.
    Richard Lewis, writing in Nature,1 describes how scientists found this out.  It appears that the ER and the calcium channels talk to each other.  When the ER is running low on calcium ions, a messenger molecule goes to the plasma membrane, and starts a process where the channels and a portion of the ER move independently toward a meeting point.  The channels cluster to a spot on the membrane where a fold in the ER joins to meet it, and the calcium ions are delivered right to where they are needed.  In Lewis’s words, “New findings reveal a unique mechanism for channel activation, in which the CRAC channel [calcium release-activated channel2] and its sensor migrate independently to closely apposed sites of interaction in the ER and the plasma membrane.”
    What are these processes good for?  The short list includes: secretion, motility, gene expression, cell growth, and activation of the T cell response to antigens.  This emerging picture comes after “years of frustration” looking for the mechanism by which this interaction worked.  They finally found the secret using forward and reverse gene activation methods.
    In the paper, Lewis included a cartoon diagram of the play-by-play process.  He called it a kind of “molecular choreography” in which the cell performs “assembly on demand”.  Using the word “Remarkably” twice in the paper, he commented on the significance of this apparatus: “This kind of choreographic activation mechanism, in which a channel and its sensor migrate within distinct membranes to reach a common interaction site, is unprecedented.”  But why don’t the receptor and channel just stay put in close proximity?  It’s likely, he explains, that the oscillations in calcium activity introduce delays that create local signaling domains, enhancing the specificity of calcium signaling for particular purposes.
    The picture may be more complex than it looks already.  The signaling proteins he described may be part of multi-protein complexes.  Something, for instance, has to give the open sesame password to the channel.  Other activators may be required to call the components to the rendezvous site.
    Lewis did not mention evolution in this paper, except to note twice that parts of the system are conserved (i.e., unevolved) from Drosophila (fruit flies) to humans.  Since such vastly diverse organisms are composed of cells, and all cells employ calcium signalling, this probably implies the system is conserved throughout the eukaryotic kingdom if not all life.

1Richard S. Lewis, “The molecular choreography of a store-operated calcium channel,” Nature 446, 284-287 (15 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05637.
2CRAC is unusual among the family of calcium channels.  Lewis describes it: “The unusual characteristics of this channel have long intrigued ion-channel biophysicists; it selects for Ca2+ just as well as CaV channels but conducts Ca2+ >100 times more slowly, is inactivated by intracellular Ca2+ on timescales separated by three orders of magnitude, and requires extracellular Ca2+ to be fully active.”  The reasons for these “unique channel properties” are still under investigation.  It will take time to obtain a “global view of the molecular workings of store-operated channels and their physiological roles.”  The overall effectiveness of the system in vital roles suggests there is a reason for its slow activation compared to other calcium channels.
Since Lewis called this remarkable, let’s give it some remarks.  How could such a process evolve?  Multiple protein parts are needed, and they need to not only match one another’s conformation, but migrate to exact points where other proteins (or protein complexes) are independently migrating simultaneously.  He admitted that this process shows no evolutionary modification throughout biology.  How could such a precision ballet arise by chance?  Ballet needs a choreographer.  Lewis did not need evolutionary theory for this paper.  If evolutionists had a ready answer to how this evolved, they surely would not keep silent about it as they always do when investigating the details of biology (e.g., 08/28/2006, 04/05/2006, 03/12/2006).
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyAmazing Facts
  The mystery of the ultra-pure sandstones, from 06/27/2003: worldwide instances of ancient sandstones, hundreds of meters thick, of exceptional purity.  Nothing like them forming today.

Can Science Determine if God Answers Prayer?   03/16/2007    
An Arizona State research team has found support for the theory that intercessory prayer works, says EurekAlert.  David R. Hodge averaged 17 studies on intercessory prayer, including some that measured no effect.  His overall result contradicts a Harvard study (2006) by Benson that prayer has no influence on a patient’s health.  Still, he could not say without qualification that prayer alone should be used as treatment.

Well-meaning as these studies are, they have many problems.  This is not the kind of phenomenon that can be reduced to scientific experimentation.  For one thing, the complexities of the pray-er and the pray-ee are beyond classification.  While the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16), one cannot know the spiritual integrity of the one praying, nor the willingness to receive God’s blessing by the recipient.  Can sincerity be measured with a meter?  What about the need for persistence in prayer?
    In addition, God cannot be put in a scientific box.  His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  He works by intelligent design, not by natural law.  Trying to figure out God’s ways by the methods of science is like trying to calculate the square root of Abraham Lincoln.  Intelligent beings can choose to go against expectations.  God is under no obligation to respond, like a stimulus-response machine, to inputs.  He sees beyond the immediate crisis and works things out according to His own will, incomprehensible as it may seem to finite beings.
    Third, it’s not the act of prayer as a rote behavior that gets a response.  The right relationship between a prepared supplicant and the one true God is crucial.  The prophets of Baal prayed, wept and cut themselves in their earnestness, but nothing happened (I Kings 18).  If a supplicant prays to an idol or other false god, no measurable quantity of prayerful activity will register.  Yet even men as righteous as Moses, Job, and Peter sometimes got “no” (or “wait”) for an answer.
    Does God answer prayer?  Millions know by experience and by the promises of God.  Science has no method to investigate such things.
Next headline on:  Bible and Theology
Is a 100-Year Misunderstanding about Plants Solved?   03/15/2007    
Part of “one of the biggest misunderstandings in botanical history,” a plant has moved from an upper part of the family tree down to the bottom.  Trithuria submersa, an underwater flowering plant from India and Australia that was thought to be a monocot is really not a cot at all, says Science Daily reporting on research at University of British Columbia.  Indeed, it“s ancient:
By analyzing the plants at the molecular level, Graham’s team has now determined that these moss-size plants are instead part of an older line of flowering plants that includes the water lilies.  This ancient line split off the main trunk of the family tree of flowering plants soon after they began to diversify, at least 135 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs.
The team used a combination of morphological and molecular evidences to reclassify the species.  But will this solve “Darwin’s abominable mystery,” the origin of the flowering plants? 
“For more than a century, scientists have been piecing together the details of the rapid rise and early diversification of flowering plants,” says [Sean] Graham [Univ. of British Columbia].  “Discovering this living plant’s ancient heritage makes us re-evaluate our understanding of early flowering-plant evolution.  For botanists, this is like finding something you thought was a lizard is actually a living dinosaur.
So is this plant the key to the mystery?  Not likely.  Now a complex plant that was thought to be an advanced form must be pushed back to simpler times.  Though the team is calling this a “major piece in the puzzle of flowering-plant origins,” it is complicating the picture, not simplifying it.  What it reveals is that “some of the earliest evolutionary branches were more diverse then we once thought.”
    The article is based on a paper in Nature1 whose authors said, “This indicates that water lilies are part of a larger lineage that evolved more extreme and diverse modifications for life in an aquatic habitat than previously recognized.”  These plants, part of a family discovered only within the last 25 years, are not really like water lilies.  “It would be misleading to view Hydatellaceae merely as reduced water lilies,” they said, because they have many unique characteristics besides the similar habitat.  Commenting on this paper in the same issue, Friis and Crane said,2 “A shake-up of current thinking about the evolution of the angiosperms – the flowering plants – is a consequence of the relocation of a hitherto obscure branch on the angiosperm evolutionary tree.”  This relocation could “hardly be more attention-grabbing,” they said.  For some of the traits in this plant, “repositioning the Hydatellaceae raises questions that add to an already long list of unresolved issues in early angiosperm evolution.”  It could “profound implications for ideas on the early evolution of the classic angiosperm flower” and will take some “time to digest all the implications” of this reclassification.  They compared this to the discovery of the living fossil Wollemi Pine from Australia to illustrate our ignorance of plant diversity in the world.  In closing they commented,
Hydatella and Trithuria will inevitably be the subject of detailed investigation in the coming years.  But whatever the outcomes of these studies, the radical realignment discovered by Saarela et al. remind us not to become too comfortable with the current picture of early angiosperm relationships, and especially with the details of character evolution that they imply.  There will be more surprises as new plants are added to the mix.  They will come not just from our gradually improving knowledge of living plants, but more especially from our exploration of the riches of the plant fossil record – both for early angiosperms and for their elusive relatives among other seed plants.

1Saareka et al, “Hydatellaceae identified as a new branch near the base of the angiosperm phylogenetic tree,” Nature 446, 312-315 (15 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05612.
2Else Marie Friis and Peter, Crane, “Botany: New home for tiny aquatics,” Nature 446, 269-270 (15 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446269a.
OK, so what other big misunderstandings have been lingering for over a century, while the world’s greatest evolutionary minds were all working on this in the wrong direction?  Evolutionists can’t even figure out the specimens right under their noses, let alone a fictional multi-million-year history.  It’s not the mystery that is abominable.  It’s the gutless, witless, feckless allegiance to a long-gone bearded buddha and his weird-science beliefs.  When you toss out the only explanation that works, big misunderstandings and abominable mysteries come with the territory.
Next headline on:  BotanyDarwin and Evolution
Why Our Voices Are Unique   03/15/2007    
We can usually recognize friends and acquaintances by their voices.  If we all have the same hardware, though, how is this possible?  The answer is in the vortex.  Sounds sci-fi, but researchers at the University of Cincinnati used knowledge of jet engines to explore the possibility that vortices may help solve the mysteries of the voice.
    Vortices are not body parts; they are aerodynamic effects of airflow through the voice box (larynx).  If you could see them, they would look like rotating smoke rings.  The article says, “the larynx is one of the body’s least understood organs.”  Most researchers have studied the structure of the larynx, but Sid Khosla and his team looked at the airflow through it.  They knew that vortices around jet engines produce sound, and suspected that similar phenomena modulated the otherwise mechanical vibrations of the larynx, giving it tone and color.  As a result, they were the first to produce an animal model that could be used to explain the intricacies of voice production in humans.  Khosla found that “vortices may help explain why individual voices are different and can have a different richness and quality to their sound.”
    Vortices can be produced by a number of mechanisms.  “This complexity produces a sound that makes my voice different from yours,” he said.  The team hopes that new insights into the aerodynamics of voice production may lead to more effective treatments for voice disorders.
Good science, new knowledge with possible health benefits, and no evolutionary speculation.  Three cheers.
Next headline on:  Human BodyPhysicsAmazing Facts
The Amazing Pigeon Techno-Beak   03/15/2007    
How do homing pigeons find home?  Scientists at University of Frankfurt may have found the answer: magnetic minerals in their beaks.  A press release from Springer Publications describes the amazing pigeon techno-beak:
In histological and physicochemical examinations in collaboration with HASYLAB, the synchrotron laboratories based in Hamburg, Germany, iron-containing subcellular particles of maghemite and magnetite were found in sensory dendrites of the skin lining the upper beak of homing pigeons.  This research project found that these dendrites are arranged in a complex three-dimensional pattern with different spatial orientation designed to analyze the three components of the magnetic field vector separately.  They react to the Earth’s external magnetic field in a very sensitive and specific manner, thus acting as a three-axis magnetometer.
    The study suggests that the birds sense the magnetic field independent of their motion and posture and thus can identify their geographical position.
This mechanism is probably not unique to homing pigeons, the article states.  It might be found in all birds – and even in other animals that excel at navigation.  Indeed, “many animals display behavior that is modified or controlled by the Earth’s magnetic field.”  These include animals as diverse as sea turtles, lobsters and butterflies.
    A spin-off of this discovery is the human desire to imitate it.  Will similar nanotechnology someday help doctors target drugs in the body?  Will it spur inventions into new data storage devices?  Will it reduce the size of magnetometers on aircraft and spacecraft?  Too early to say.  First, inventors must find ways to synthesize these sensors.  One of the scientists at the University of Frankfurt commented, “Even though birds have been producing these particles for millions of years, the main problem for scientists who want to find benefits from their use will be the technical production of these particles.”
Millions of years would not help pigeons develop techno-beaks.  Aside from that bit of Darwinian flatulence, this is an astonishing announcement.  It goes to show that no skill in nature just happens; there must be structure adequate for each function.  Homing pigeons have been known for a long time.  People have marveled at pigeon navigational abilities since antiquity, but only now do we begin to understand what machinery is involved.  The iron-containing structure in the beak is just one aspect of a system.  As with eyes and ears, a brain must be adequate to process the continuous information flow and make quick decisions.  Would that Charles Darwin, that famous pigeon-breeder, had known about this.  Things might have been different in 1859.
Next headline on:  BirdsBiomimeticsPhysicsAmazing Facts
  Follow the money, says an astrobiologist about astrobiology, from 01/07/2005.  An example of pouring astrobiology money down Mr. Rabbit’s hole: from 01/28/2005.

An Extinction’s Long Fuse   03/15/2007    
Some scientists are claiming that when the Isthmus of Panama was formed, an extinction event occurred two million years later.  The story is reported on EurekAlert

“We may be way off-track when we search for the causes of extinctions by looking only at the time the extinctions occur in the fossil record, which is what paleontologists normally do,” said Aaron O’Dea, postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  “In our case, we see that most coral and snail species died off a good 2 million years after the environmental change that caused their demise.
Yet the next sentence says they don’t know why the extinction was delayed for such a long time.  Another finds this puzzling:
”We don’t start seeing extinction rates really increasing for another 1 million years,” [Ken] Jackson [London Natural History Museum] said.  “What is most remarkable is that most of the organisms that went extinct were those that liked high productivity environments, which had already disappeared for some time.  Why did it take so long for them to perish?  What tipped the scales?”
The lesson preached from this press release is that our actions today may have consequences millions of years into the future.  But then, how would we ever know, and who would care?
You mean, they actually believe this?  They separate a cause from an effect by two million years?  Yes, they do believe it.  The dating method is never to be questioned, even when it leads to absurdities.  The reason is that it provides an opportunity for them to get on their environmental soap box and make humans feel guilty for something.  Then, why not be thankful for the Panama Canal, which re-joined the oceans?  Won’t that help undo the damage two million years from now?
    It’s amazing what you can claim given unlimited time.  I’m going to clap my hands, and predict that two million years from now, there will be a tsunami.  Prove me wrong.
Next headline on:  Dating MethodsDumb Ideas
Immature Kid?  Blame Evolution   03/14/2007    
Why do older children linger at home longer than they should?  Evolution, says Ker Than for Live Science.  This insight of his is based on growth patterns of teeth from an alleged 160,000-year-old juvenile skeleton in Africa.  Tanya Smith [Max Planck Institute] said of the bones, “These early fossils show a mix of primitive and derived features and paleoanthropologists are still debating whether they’re modern or on the way to being modern.”  See more at a press release from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, another from the Max Planck Society, and reports on National Geographic and Science Daily, none of which question the interpretation.
    Some of the articles, however, point out that this finding contradicts earlier beliefs because it puts a modern human characteristic farther back in time.  The Science Daily piece points out that there is no consensus about when our ancestors became “modern” humans: “While fossil evidence tells a complex tale of mosaic change during the African Stone Age, almost nothing is known about changes in human ‘life history,’ or the timing of development, reproductive scheduling, and lifespan.”  Still, even this admission does not question the basic assumption that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors.  National Geographic even speculates that tooth patterns suggest human ancestors 160,000 years ago had a complex social structure that was one of their survival strategies.  But if this was a strategy, was it intentional?  If so, how did early human social groups cause the children to mature more slowly?  This was not explained.  It was just taken for granted that evolution would somehow do it.  One anthropologist was quoted as saying, “What we didn’t know was when the modern human condition of a long childhood and slow period of growth and development evolved,” – that was when, not if.
Why do science reporters and paleoanthropologists show such immature thinking?  Such shallow knowledge of history and philosophy?  Such unjustified inference from fragmentary evidence?  Such blatant disregard for integrity in the noble enterprise of science?  Blame evolution.
Next headline on:  Early ManEvolutionDumb Ideas
The Enceladus Problem Heats Up   03/13/2007    
How can a small icy moon produce hot-water geysers?  That is the Enceladus problem: for a small moon assumed to be 4.5 billion years old to be forcefully gushing out water from its south pole was a great surprise when the Cassini spacecraft first detected the geysers in 2005 (11/28/2005).  Ever since, scientists have been puzzling how to get the plumes to last so long (03/01/2006).  A new paper in Icarus1 concedes this is a bigger problem than thought; it would require tremendous heat at depth to keep the system going.
    The existence of nitrogen in the plumes, assumed to result from decomposition of ammonia, leads to estimates of 500K to 800K (440-980°F) in the moon’s interior: “a very hot environment” for unusual chemistry and explosive physics.
A major question is how is it possible to get high temperatures inside Enceladus, while it is already surprising to observe ongoing geological activity at this satellite.  We prefer to approach the problem the following way.  Pre-Cassini geophysical models have failed to account for the young surface of Enceladus observed by Voyager.  There is a need to revisit the assumptions and initial conditions used for these models.
    Several other lines of evidence now point to the existence of high temperature material (well above the melting point of water) in at least some portions of Enceladus’ interior.  The plumes themselves and the thermal power radiated by the south polar anomaly suggest higher heating levels than currently provided by long-lived radiogenic species and current tidal dissipation combined (Porco et al., 2006).
    Supplying the heat required to explain the observed phenomena is a major challenge for theoretical models of the satellite’s thermal history.
The only suggestions they can come up with are (1) maybe tidal heating is more efficient than thought, or (2) maybe Enceladus formed early when short-lived radionuclides were able to melt the interior, then subsequent long-lived radioactive decay maintained the heat for all this time.  They referred to other papers on these ideas but did not speculate on how long such heating could persist, and why it did not affect similar moons, like Mimas, in the same way.
    At the end they speculated briefly about how inner heat might cook up a “rich, warm, aqueous, organic ‘soup’ below the surface” up to and including “hydrocarbons, nitriles, methanol and possibly amino acids” not yet observed.  Sniffing some of the ingredients might be possible if Cassini is able to sweep through the plume a year from now (March 12, 2008).  Though the authors did not mention the L word life (except for the indirect word prebiotic), some of the popular news media were quick to pick up on this thought (see BBC News and  The JPL press release, though stating that “all key ingredients for life” are present, was careful to qualify that “no one is claiming that we found life by any means” – only that “we probably have evidence for a place that might be hospitable to life.”  National Geographic, however, made the L word its centerpiece, announcing, “Saturn’s Icy Moon May Have Been Hot Enough for Life, Study Finds.”
1Matson, Castillo, Lunine and Johnson, “Enceladus’ plume: Compositional evidence for a hot interior,” Icarus, Volume 187, Issue 2, April 2007, pages 569573, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2006.10.016.
Enceladus has nothing to do with life, OK? (time to review 02/15/2007).  Scientists and reporters should stop throwing out this distraction from the real issue: an observational fact is at clear variance with assumptions about the age of the solar system.  The researchers admit that the known heat sources are inadequate separately and in combination.  Two years ago, it was admitted Enceladus lacks a rocky core that could store enough radioactive sources (see 04/08/2005), and last year another scientist admitted that short-lived radionuclides are just a knob one can twiddle in the models without being able to make a hard statement (see 03/01/2006).  Meanwhile, the geysers are real.  They continue to erupt enough material to replenish the E-ring and spray-paint neighboring moons with ice (02/10/2007).
    If this were the only anomaly in the evolutionary dating scheme, perhaps they could do some special pleading, but then there is Titan’s surface (05/04/2006, 06/09/2005) and atmosphere (10/18/2006, 09/14/2006), Saturn’s rings (09/06/2005), Io’s volcanoes, the surface of Venus, our moon (11/09/2006), comets (06/10/2006) and much more in the solar system arguing against long ages.  The earth-based dating methods that give long ages are not without their own problems (e.g., 08/08/2006, 05/08/2006); without the need for geological epochs for evolution to occur, the difficulties with all dating methods would be apparent.  The E-ring is young (07/11/2006), the geysers have finite energy sources, and the surface of Enceladus is young (08/30/2005).  Why not accept the obvious inference that the whole moon is young?  If Darwin didn’t need the time, it would be obvious to everybody.  This “major challenge” must be faced (02/06/2006).  We agree it is time to “revisit the assumptions and initial conditions” that have “failed to account for the young surface of Enceladus observed by Voyager.”  Stating the inference to the best explanation – that Enceladus is young – will require courage on the part of a planetary scientist willing to go where the evidence leads.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemPhysicsDating Methods
Were Australopithecines Violent?  Should Humans Not Be?   03/12/2007    
One wonders how a scientist could infer behavior from skeletal dimensions, but David Carrier (U of Utah) believes he can visualize that evolutionary ancestors of humans were good fighters.  A report on EurekAlert begins, “Ape-like human ancestors known as australopiths maintained short legs for 2 million years because a squat physique and stance helped the males fight over access to females, a University of Utah study concludes.”
    Carrier thinks shorter legs helped the males have a better wrestling stance.  But there are exceptions: bonobos have shorter legs, but are passive.  Carrier also had to make an exception for humans, who are “not less aggressive because they have longer legs.”  He didn’t make clear whether he was visualizing Fred Flintstone or Richard Dawkins.  But he did win Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for his answer to the question of why anyone should care if australopiths were short and nasty:
“Given the aggressive behavior of modern humans and apes, we should not be surprised to find fossil evidence of aggressive behavior [?] in the ancestors of modern humans,” Carrier says. “This is important because we have a real problem with violence in modern society. Part of the problem is that we don’t recognize we are relatively violent animals. Many people argue we are not violent. But we are violent. If we want to prevent future violence we have to understand why we are violent.”
    “To some extent, our evolutionary past may help us to understand the circumstances in which humans behave violently,” he adds.  “There are a number of independent lines of evidence suggesting that much of human violence is related to male-male competition, and this study is consistent with that.”
Carrier had to admit that male-male competition did not explain all human violence, and that he did not really know how aggressive australopiths were.  He just remarked, “If they were more aggressive than modern humans, they were exceptionally nasty animals.”
We don’t see the females flocking to the world championship wrestlers.  And we don’t see some of the best males at passing on genes being particularly good fighters.  And we don’t see any fossil bones having skeleton fights with each other.  Please tell us, David, how you intend to test your hypothesis.
    Can Carrier and any of his other Darwin Party buddies explain why we should try to prevent future violence?  What is the “real problem with violence in modern society”?  If evolution made males this way, then violence is good, and peace is stupid.  Hitler understood this.  Mussolini understood this.  Chairman Mao and Pol Pot understood this.  These and other Darwin-inspired dictators made violence an intrinsic part of their social policy and carried it out with a vengeance they felt their ideology justified (for details, listen to the Teaching Company lecture series Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century).
    Darwinism justifies any male doing anything he wants to, violence included, to get a female.  The one who does not understand what he just said is David Carrier who, along with all the other inconsistent Darwinists, want to “understand” our “evolutionary past” but then cannot live with the consequences.  Carrier can point to no Darwinian moral categories that would classify violence as either good or bad.  Maybe he should be listening to that conscience that tells him something is morally wrong with selfish sex and violence run amok.
    Promote world peace.  Shut up a Darwinist today.  Laughter may be the best medicine.
Next headline on:  Early ManEvolutionPolitics and EthicsDumb Ideas
Music Can Make You Smarter   03/12/2007    
Musical training in childhood can help one develop better language processing skills, reports a news item on EurekAlert.  Scientists at Northwestern University found that English-speaking adults who had musical training were better able to track intonations of Chinese tonal words than those who did not have such training.
    The study contradicted an evolutionary assumption about the brain stem.  “An old structure from an evolutionary standpoint, the brainstem once was thought to only play a passive role in auditory processing,” the article states.  “We’ve found that by playing music -- an action thought of as a function of the neocortex -- a person may actually be tuning the brainstem,” said Nina Kraus, one of the team publishing their results in Nature Neuroscience.  “This suggests that the relationship between the brainstem and neocortex is a dynamic and reciprocal one and tells us that our basic sensory circuitry is more malleable than we previously thought.
Do your brain a favor and learn to appreciate good music.  Don’t deprive children of the opportunity to learn how to develop a God-given capacity that enriches life.  (High-decibel repetitious raunchy cacophony excluded.)  Did you notice that evolutionary theory failed another prediction again? (03/08/2007).
Next headline on:  Human BodyAmazing Facts
Skin Includes Built-In Damage Protection   03/11/2007    
Ultraviolet radiation that tans skin can also cause skin cancer, right?  Right, but the skin also produces a cancer fighter to come to the rescue, reported EurekAlert.  Scientists at the Dana-Farber cancer institute detected a known cancer fighter named p53 that is produced right under the skin.  Their results, published in Cell (see summary on EurekAlert) show that a “master regulator” of the suntan response that helps provide protection from skin cancer.  This protein, also called the “guardian of the genome,” was linked to the tanning response, the researchers found.  The production of melanin by tanning provides additional protection from UV damage.
    Surprisingly, the system is linked into the endorphin response: the pleasurable sensation of lying in the sun.  “There is even the possibility that p53 protects against skin damage in a second – and previously unsuspected – way,” the article states.  “The protein not only causes skin to tan in response to sunlight, it may also underlie people’s desire to spend time in the sun.”
    With moderation (and caution related to skin type and latitude), then, it appears that sensible exposure to sunlight is a good thing – with some protection built in. 
Update 03/18/2007:  An “SOS” signal and response under the skin was described by researchers U of North Carolina School of Medicine, reports EurekAlert.  Special proteins slow down DNA replication under a UV barrage to give time for the repair team to work (07/26/2002, 01/04/2002).
Humans were created for the outdoors.  They only build shelters of necessity for protection from the ravages of a fallen world.  When you visualize an Eden-like environment, the first parents had a waterproof, sun-protected, heat-adapting covering of skin that could thrive in the original creation (03/02/2007).  A cursed world presented new challenges that make that way of existence only marginally tolerable.  Still, enough of our original physiology remains to make a moderate walk or rest under a gentle sun (03/07/2007) a healthful (11/21/2006) and wonderful thing.  “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun,” said Solomon (Ecclesiastes 11:7).  Get the dosage that is appropriate for you.
Next headline on:  Human BodyHealth
Darwinists Blur Science with Fiction   03/09/2007    
One would think make-believe is for kids, and science is for adults.  Some recent evolution stories, however, seem to portray a seamless continuum between imagination and testable scientific hypotheses.  You be the judge:
  1. Darwin in cyberspace:  If it happens in a computer simulation, is it really evolution?  National Geographic reported on a new computer game that allows players to evolve any kind of creatures they want and pit them against each other in survival-of-the-fittest competition.  The description makes no distinction between what happens in the game and what supposedly happens in the wild.  The words evolution and natural selection appear in the article in both contexts.  One of the proponents called this “natural selection at its best.”  But if the selection takes place in software designed by programmers, is it really natural?
  2. Reverse-engineering contingencyScience magazine reported this week that engineers “evolved” a salamander-like robot that could swim to land and crawl ashore.1,2  This is a fine piece of clever engineering, but is it evolution?  Again, the article made no distinction between the natural and the artificial.  It implied that the robot is retracing steps taken by organisms in the unseen past.  Notice what Frank Fish (West Chester U, PA) said about the experiment: “This is clearly an excellent fusion of biology and robotics to test neurological and evolutionary hypotheses.  This paper will be a high-profile example of how robots can be used as surrogates for living and fossil systems.”  He did not explain in what respects this man-made, designed robot, lacking DNA and the ability to reproduce itself, compares or contrasts with a biological organism in any significant way.
        The reverse comparison, that an intelligently designed robot might suggest the first tetrapod was similarly designed, was definitely not what the article intended to convey.  This is clear from a write-up in Live Science, where Jeanna Brynner took the Darwinist line to the hilt: “Studies of the robot show that our fishy ancestors likely used their primitive brains to make the evolutionary leap from water worlds to terra firma.”  Surprisingly, this sentence makes it sound like fish brains intelligently designed their own upward evolution, with purpose and a goal (teleology).  Another example of the equivocation between natural selection and intelligent self-design can be found in Science Digest: “This four-legged yellow creature reveals a great deal about the evolution of vertebrate locomotion,” it claims.  “It’s also a vivid demonstration that robots can be used to test and verify biological concepts, and that very often nature herself offers ideal solutions for robotics design.”  Is this describing nature as a personified engineer?  Teleology and intelligent guidance were the very principles Darwin was trying to avoid.
  3. Make believe:  Playing “what if?” games might provide a brainstorming activity a scientist could employ while developing a hypothesis that could be tested by experiment.  “What if” on the other hand, the make-believe exercise becomes an end in itself?  This is apparently what a BBC News exercise for students encourages.  The following “what-if?” exercise is not advertised in the fiction department; it is found in the “Science and Nature” department.  To some evolutionists, apparently, the dream is the thing:
    It’s a palaeontologist’s dream: the chance to live in a world where dinosaurs are not something to be dug out of the ground but are living among us.  It may sound far-fetched but dinosaurs were actually rather unlucky.  The meteorite impact that doomed them to extinction was an event with a probability of millions to one.  What if the meteorite had missed?
        Had dinosaurs survived, the world today would be very different.  If humans managed to survive alongside them, we wouldn’t have the company of most, if not all, of the mammals with which we are familiar today.  Giraffes, elephants and other mammals wouldn’t have had space to evolve.
        Would we be hunting Hadrosaurs instead of elk?  Or farming Protoceratops instead of pigs?  Would dinosaurs be kept as pets?  And could the brighter dinosaurs have evolved into something humanoid?
Clearly anything is possible if imagination is substituted for testable hypotheses.  The writers of this exercise did not mention that the impact hypothesis for the extinction of the dinosaurs is itself controversial (e.g., 10/24/2006).  If the impact turns out to be imaginary, then the exercise becomes imagination balanced on imagination.  If the Darwinian theory of common ancestry by natural selection is also overturned someday (as advocates of intelligent design feel is inevitable), it becomes imagination balanced on imagination balanced on imagination.  Without a foundation of testable theories anchored to observational evidence, exercises in the imagination are indistinguishable from turtles all the way down (see joke).
1Ijspeert, Crespi, Ryczko and Cabelguen, “From Swimming to Walking with a Salamander Robot Driven by a Spinal Cord Model,” Science, 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1416-1420, DOI: 10.1126/science.1138353.
2Elisabeth Pennisi, “Robot Suggests How the First Land Animals Got Walking,” Science, 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1352-1353, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5817.1352a
Intelligent reader, nobody needs to tell you how stupid these Darwin sideshows are.  It would be insulting to hold rotten baloney in front of your nose and ask you if it smelt bad.  Yet this kind of folly is presented monolithically in today’s science journals, museums, popular science media, and public schools (notice that #1 was promoted by the prestigious, historic National Geographic Society, #2 was published in the leading American journal Science, and #3 was devised for UK public education).  It doesn’t matter that it is untestable, illogical, equivocating, vague, personified, analogical, reductive, subjective, self-contradictory, self-refuting, and completely out of touch with reality.  Darwin’s little myth has become so sacred that no one dare question it – or even laugh.  In fact, if you do question it, you are likely to be called a fascist or Nazi (see AIG) and threatened with a lawsuit (01/06/2007; see also the two meanings of “make believe” in the 10/11/2006 commentary).
    If you are sick and tired of the Darwin Freak Show and can’t take it any more, then join the noble Visigoths in their futuristic space fighters (see this Japanese cartoon) and help depose Charlie from his antiquated Castle of the Imagination (see 01/17/2007 and 12/22/2003 commentaries).  Kick the rascals out and let science once again be a rational search for verifiable understanding about the natural world – the real world.
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
  Can evolutionary theory explain the “over-engineering” in animal navigation? from 03/23/2004.

Deconstructing Darwinese:  Delighting in Ignorance   03/08/2007    
When is ignorance a good thing?  When is confidence in one’s answers a bad thing?  One science writer expressed his desire for mystery over explanation – as long as the mysterious allowed room for lucky breaks without design.
    Science writer Ben Shaberman got to share his views on the last page of the April 2007 issue of Sky and Telescope: “Knowledge can be enlightening, but so can mystery.”  He first described his rapture at hearing Adam Reiss speak about dark energy and multiverses.  Then he described those who disagree with the vision:

Those who profess creationism or “intelligent design” think they have the answer to why things in the universe work out so well.  But for those seeking a scientific explanation, the anthropic principle offers another possibility.  It suggests that we simply got lucky: there have been a zillion Big Bangs, and the one that created our universe just happened to work out.  In other words, we hit the cosmic jackpot.  The idea has both its supporters and critics, and it’s utterly fascinating.
Fascinating indeed.  Imagine winning the universal lottery without spending any money on tickets.  Ben went on to praise the glories of the unknown, the mysterious, the uncertain: “At a time when politicians and the media espouse so much certainty about virtually everything, it was refreshing to hear an intelligent and levelheaded guy acknowledge all the stuff that baffles us.”
Darwinese is more than just a language foreign to the majority of people who live by common sense and know an intelligent cause when they see it.  No, Darwinese is a complete communication system that includes a set of protocols.  One requirement is the secret handshake.  This is the motion of sweeping away creationism with a wipe of the hand, and putting “intelligent design” in scare quotes.  In evolutionary parlance, it is taboo to actually consider the arguments of these dimwits.  The structure of Darwinese, as in 1984, actually inhibits formulating thoughts contrary to Darwinese protocol.  Whatever celebrates Darwinian ideas is goodthink; whatever attributes validity to intelligent design is crimethink.  The syntax and semantics force thoughts into naturalistic molds – except when Christian terms are borrowed temporarily to get around difficulties (e.g., 07/15/2005).
    A second requirement is to reinforce the false dichotomy between design/creationist views and “scientific explanation.”  The word science must never be used in the same sentence with intelligent design.  It is a word reserved strictly for Darwinian materialists, even when the context appeals to mystery, the unknown and the unknowable.  Claiming to know the answer is design, and being able to prove it, spoils all the fun of remaining ignorant.  He said, “That hour-long lunch helped me appreciate the beauty of the mysterious world we live in.”
    A third requirement in Darwinese is to pretend to be honestly curious and to demean certainty while actually maintaining a dogmatic position.  To prove that Shaberman is an accomplished Darwinese speaker, ask him if evolutionary theory itself is up for debate.  Imagine what would happen if an interlocutor were to argue that invocations to unknowable Big Bangs and multiverses constitutes a tacit appeal to the supernatural.  The Darwinese protocol in such instances is to chant Evolution is science!  Creation is religion! as long as necessary to get the interlocutor to leave.  News reporters watching on the sidelines will promptly report that the Darwinese speaker achieved a great victory against ignorance and superstition.
    A feeling of awe and wonder at things too big to be understood does have its share of euphoria.  Mystery can spur one on to seek an explanation.  In that sense, it can be a good thing.  But mystery is not an end in itself, lest it become a mystery religion.  Shaberman just preached a little sermon for the Cult of Lady Luck, one of the denominations of Charlianity.  Darwin would be pleased to know that his doctrine of contingency has been extrapolated all the way back into prior worlds of the imagination.  This completes his systematic theology: ultimate origins, the present, and ultimate destiny.  He is gratified that his completed system produces such warm feelings in the hearts of his disciples.  Now that he controls the Ministry of Truth, having ruled all competing ideas out of bounds, he happily pays out his lottery winners in monopoly money.  Whatever keeps his devotees hooked enraptured in the realms of eternal ignorance is not too high a price to pay.
Next headline on:  EvolutionIntelligent DesignCosmologyDumb Ideas
Nature Recommends Trimming the Bible   03/08/2007    
People act violently when they think God sanctions violence, thinks Brad Bushman, a social psychologist from U. of Michigan.  Heidi Ledford wrote in Nature1 that he and others like Hector Avalos (Iowa State) propose editing Scripture.  “Avalos has proposed a radical solution to theologically inspired violence — cut the violent passages out of the scripture.”  He says this is not a “wildly controversial idea” because churches are already selective about what they preach.
1Heidi Ledford, “Scriptural violence can foster aggression,” Nature 446, 114-115 (8 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446114b.
What business is this of Nature?  Clean your own house, Darwinians.  Thou shalt not alter a word of Scripture till thou purge Darwin’s writings of the racism that led to the largest and most pernicious genocides of all time.*  Purge, also, the writings of his cousin Galton on eugenics, and the writings of all the other Darwin disciples who saw violence as a good thing – the agent of evolutionary progress.  148 million people perished in the last 100 years due to Darwin-inspired regimes.  Multiple millions more who survived suffered other forms of violence, torture and deprivation.
    When you are done with that little exercise, then purge the Quran of its violent passages.  How convenient to attack the Scriptures of Christians who believe in praying for one’s enemies, while ignoring the 1.5 billion people subscribing to a “religion of peace” that believes in blowing up buses and shopping malls in the name of the moon god so that brainwashed young men can fulfill their fantasies of eternal sex.
    Then, Darwin Party, write a term paper on the hospitals and charities and improvements to education and government founded by Christians.  These are prerequisites before starting any conversation about the interpretation of the violent passages in Scripture, which have been duly discussed in context by Jewish and Christian theologians for millennia.  OK, atheists, got any virtues you would like to brag about?  Besides hypocrisy, that is.  How about a little altruism? (01/21/2006, 03/16/2005).
Next headline on:  Bible and TheologyPolitics and Ethics
*Recommended resource to establish the connection between social Darwinism and genocide in withering detail: lecture series “Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century” by Dr. Vejas Liulevicius, available from The Teaching Company.
Evolutionary Predictions Fail Observational Tests   03/08/2007    
Lately, some expectations by evolutionists have not been fulfilled.  Here are several recent examples of evolutionary upsets:
  1. Dinobird genes cook up scrambled eggs:  Scientists expected that the dinosaurs presumed ancestral to birds would show a decreasing genome size.  The thinking was that the cost of maintaining a large genome takes its toll on flight.  In Nature,1 however, a team found that smaller genomes evolved 230 million years ago, long before the early bird caught a worm.  Not only that, the non-avian dinosaur line (ornithischia) had sleeker genomes than the avian dinosaur line (saurischia).  Genome size was not measured directly, but inferred from a relationship between cell size and genome size.  This means that evolutionists cannot presume that genome size has anything to do with phylogeny.
        Carl Zimmer in Science1a commented on this paper and on the question about genome size in general, but did not come up with any explanation for how natural selection would favor large or small genomes.  See also the write-up in Live Science which repeats the assumption that dinosaurs had feathers (but compare counterarguments from CMI). 
  2. Dog beats ape:  Chimpanzees have a hard time drawing inferences about one another’s mental states by their motions.  One can point to hidden food, for instance, and the other will not get the message.  Dogs actually are much better at this, according to an article on EurekAlert.  Since dogs are supposedly farther down the evolutionary tree from humans, though, evolutionists attribute the dog’s better score to domestication: “What accounts for this piece of convergent evolution between humans and domestic dogs is nothing other than the process of domestication – the breeding of dogs to tolerate, rather than fear, human company.”  But would this mean that breeding chimps to tolerate, rather than fear, human company would produce a similar ability?  They didn’t say.
  3. Parroting humans:  Ryan Jaroncyk on Creation Ministries Intl reported about N’kisi, the wonder bird.  This parrot can speak meaningful English sentences and has a vocabulary of 950 words.  His report, based on an article in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine, implies that “birds possess a far greater linguistic capacity than chimpanzees.”  This “defies evolutionary predictions,” he said.  He devises a thought experiment: “What if chimpanzees possessed a vocabulary of 950 words, used words in context, and formulated simple sentences like N’kisi the parrot?”  The result would be predictable: “The scientific community and popular media would be in an evolutionary frenzy.”
  4. Waspish behavior:  Time to rewrite the evolutionary history of wasps, reported a press release from Univ. of Illinois.  It’s all wrong.  “Scientists at the University of Illinois have conducted a genetic analysis of vespid wasps that revises the vespid family tree and challenges long-held views about how the wasps’ social behaviors evolved,” it states (vespids include yellowjackets, paper wasps and about 5,000 species).  “In the study, published in the Feb. 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found genetic evidence that eusociality (the reproductive specialization seen in some insects and other animals) evolved independently in two groups of vespid wasps.”  The article did not speculate on how difficult it was for this ability to arise by evolution, except to say that “ The evolution of eusociality in wasps has long been a source of debate.”  The take-home lesson is that assuming simple evolutionary lineages can get you stung: “These findings contradict an earlier model of vespid wasp evolution, which placed the groups together in a single lineage with a common ancestor.”
        So does this cast doubt on the validity of evolutionary speculation?  Not in the slightest.  Evolutionism is actually strengthened by the finding that data contradict the prediction:
    “The fact that eusociality evolved independently in two groups of vespid wasps also sheds light on the complexity of evolutionary processes, [Sydney] Cameron said.
        “Scientists attempt to make generalizations and simplify the world.  But the world isn’t always simple and evolution isn’t simple.  This finding points to the complexity of life.”
  5. Winged migration:  Is there a simple evolutionary tree for bird migration?  Not here, either.  A press release in EurekAlert from studies at the University of Arizona said, “A universal assumption about bird migration has been that short-distance migration is an evolutionary stepping stone to long-distance migration.  The team’s work contradicts that idea by showing that short-distance migrants are inherently different from their globe-trotting cousins.”  Seasonal food availability, not evolution, is apparently the determining factor.  “One textbook explanation suggests either eating fruit or living in non-forested environments were the precursors needed to evolve migratory behavior.” True or false?  “Not so,” is the new correct answer.  The work is published in the March 2007 issue of American Naturalist.
  6. Scrub that:  Some birds plan ahead.  The scrub jay makes a list of things to do today, apparently.  This behavior was described in Nature,2 where the authors began, “Knowledge of and planning for the future is a complex skill that is considered by many to be uniquely human.... We show that the jays make provision for a future need, both by preferentially caching food in a place in which they have learned that they will be hungry the following morning and by differentially storing a particular food in a place in which that type of food will not be available the next morning.”  This is a longer time period than similar behavior observed over “very short time scales” in rats and pigeons.  Even crows and apes don’t show this kind of foresight.  “The results described here suggest that the jays can spontaneously plan for tomorrow without reference to their current motivational state, thereby challenging the idea that this is a uniquely human ability.”  Sara Shettleworth, in the same issue of Nature, called this “food for thought.”  Although we cannot mind-meld with a bird brain, it almost seems that these raucous garden birds are able to imagine time-travel into the future to foresee what they will need. 
  7. Millipedes and biologists in the darkNorthern Arizona University reported two identical-looking cave millipedes that cannot be related.  “We knew the millipedes likely represented two distinct species because the two populations were separated by the Grand Canyon,” said co-discoverer J. Judson Wynne.  “The fact these two species belong to an entirely new genus was a great surprise to us.”  He called them “living fossils.”
  8. Neanderthal verdict:  The idea of a simple replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans, a “a topic of lively debate in human evolution,” will have to be abandoned, apparently.  PNAS3 provided confirmation that the cave layers where bones of both groups have been found do overlap and interstratify with one another.  They based this on radiocarbon, artifacts and stratigraphy.  Unless “native Neanderthal populations effectively self-destructed the moment the first modern populations set foot in their territories,” a completely implausible scenario, they say, it is now “totally inescapable” Neanderthals and modern humans knew each other and coexisted for a long time.
The authors in this last item attribute criticisms of the interstratification theory to “a long-standing agenda to deny the possibility of significant chronological overlap and coexistence between late Neanderthal and early anatomically modern populations in western Europe, and therefore to deny any suggestion of potential mutual interaction or ‘acculturation’ between the two populations,” they asserted.  With so many cases like these above, one can begin to meditate on what other agendas might operate to deny the possibility of keeping observations synchronized with theory.
1Organ, Shedlock, Meade, Pagel and Edwards, “Origin of avian genome size and structure in non-avian dinosaurs,” Nature 446, 180-184 (8 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05621.
1aCarl Zimmer, “Evolution: Jurassic Genome,” Science, 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1358-1359, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5817.1358.
2Raby, Alexis, Dixon and Clayton, “Planning for the future by western scrub-jays,” Nature 445, 919-921 (22 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05575.
3Mellars, Gravina and Ramsey, “Confirmation of Neanderthal/modern human interstratification at the Chatelperronian type-site,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0608053104, published online before print February 21, 2007.
The evolutionists can’t seem to get anything right.  No matter where they look, organisms aren’t cooperating with Charlie’s expectations.  What’s really naked here, the jay bird or Darwin’s little storytelling parade?  Is evolutionary theory really good for anything?  Did not Darwin foist a fruitless path of inquiry on science?  Aren’t his disciples clueless?  Don’t they deserve to be called on the carpet and reprimanded for pretending to have scientific knowledge when the evidence is against them?  We retort; you deride.
Next headline on:  DinosaursBirdsGeneticsMammalsTerrestrial ZoologyEarly ManEvolutionary Theory
  Early man and irregularity (really bad pun), from 08/22/2005.

Sappy Birthday, Plate Tectonics   03/08/2007    
Authors of prose and poetry often use personification to set the imagination and emotions moving.  Such talk is infrequent in science, because it can confuse more than illuminate.  We’ll let the reader decide the effect of a commentary in GSA Today1 by Shoufa Lin (U of Waterloo, Ontario), who asked, “When did the life of plate tectonics begin?”  In this picture, rocks morphed into living organisms acted upon by Darwinian evolution, through all stages of life:

The question of when plate tectonics began, and in particular whether it began in the Archean, is the focus of several recent articles.... I support the idea that “modern-style” plate tectonics “evolved” from an earlier form of proto-plate tectonics.... In support of the “evolutionary” view, I would like to offer the following comments...
    Most, if not all, geologists agree that plate tectonics is a part of the earth system now.  We should also agree that plate tectonics did not exist at the very early stages of Earth.  (Before that, there was even no Earth!)  If we agree on this, we should also agree that there must have been a period during the early stages of Earth’s evolution when the process of plate tectonics was conceived and “embryo” plate tectonics began.  The embryo grew into a baby, the baby into a teenager, and the teenager into an adult: “modern-style” plate tectonics.  The embryo and the baby might have looked, behaved, and functioned quite differently from the adult.....
    So when did the life of plate tectonics begin?  Some might say that it began the moment the embryo was conceived, while others would say that it did not begin until the baby was born.  I suggest we had embryo and the baby plate tectonics in the Archean, and the answer to the question of when plate tectonics began will depend on how mature you believe the process had to be before it could be called “plate tectonics.”

1Shoufa Lin, “Comment: When did the life of plate tectonics begin?” GSA Today,Volume 17, Issue 3 (March 2007), pp. 12–12.
Is any commentary really necessary?  This is SO-O-O-O stupid.  It shows how Darwinian thinking is completely out of control.  Rocks don’t think!  They don’t grow.  They have no DNA.  There is no program controlling their development.  Plate tectonic theory, as an abstract concept, cannot be thought in terms of embryos and teenagers.  Who are the parents, for crying out loud?  Mother Earth and Father Time?  Charlie has no claim on crustal plates.  How can a serious geological journal, with its heart dead-set against intelligent design, publish such nonsense?  It belongs in the mythological literature department, not a scientific journal.  Shoufa said these ideas first arose in a conference in 1995.  Apparently 12 years has not healed the brain damage.
    The important subtext here, though, is the weakness of plate tectonics theory.  Notice the admission that geologists disagree about the onset and speed of plate tectonics.  Venus and Mars, remember, have no such crustal dynamics.  Maybe the personal language used here is pulling wool over the eyes of viewers so they won’t notice the muddy thinking.
    The only thing lacking maturity in this story is the personification, a character flaw rampant in the Darwinian mentality.  Here is one baby that can be ethically thrown out with its dirty bathwater.
Next headline on:  GeologyDumb Ideas
Sun as a Star: How Does It Compare?   03/07/2007    
Not too many years ago, our sun was described as a common, ordinary star.  More recently, the Type G2 Dwarf Main-Sequence class, of which Ol Sol is a member, is believed to comprise only 5% of all stars.  An important paper in Astrophysical Journal is now revealing that the sun is special within its class: it is unusually quiet and steady.
    O. R. White, L. Wallace, and W. Livingston have just published results of a 32-year study of sunlight at the McMath Solar Observatory at Kitt Peak, Arizona.1  Even thought 32 years represents a third of a century, and half a percent of recorded history, it is rare to have a continuous data set for such a long period.  Now ready to retire from this long experiment, they discussed what they found.  Most of the paper describes details of particular spectral lines and how they vary with the 11-year solar cycle: doubly-ionized calcium lines, for instance, show clear oscillations.  Some spectral lines, from deeper within the sun’s photosphere (visible “surface”), show almost no variation.  They conclude that the deeper regions of the sun are immune from being heated by the cyclic rise and fall of magnetic disturbances.  This means the sun’s energy output is remarkably stable.
    How our sun compares with other stars was discussed briefly.  “Some of our results,” they said, “... will be of interest to stellar astronomers.” 
It is again of interest in a stellar context to compare our mean H + K index values for the center disk with that of solar-type stars, particularly stars that may be considered Maunder-minimum candidates.2  Our mean center disk value could be indicative of the values to expect in especially quiescent stars, or even in the Sun during prolonged episodes of relatively reduced activity, as appears to have occurred during the Maunder minimum period.
Astrophysicist M. S. Giampapa compared the integrated results with comparable stars.  The amount of variation in solar output was “about 10% less than the seasonal mean values, as measured over several seasons of observation, for even the most quiet solar-type stars,” he wrote.  “In any event, our mean center disk value in comparison with stellar observations appears to be representative of ‘immaculate photospheres,’ with little in the way of magnetic-field-related nonradiative heating.3
    In plain English, this means our sun is quiet and well behaved.  The cycles of magnetic energy that cause sunspots and flares somehow escape through the photosphere without heating the surface, resulting in a “solar constant” of energy output – constant, that is, compared with other G2 stars.  The discussion summarizes the finding: “Converted to stellar S [a normalized spectral measurement for all stars], the center disk Sun resides at a position of minimum activity, as found for the most quiescent solar-type stars.”
    This has been a career-long project for the researchers.  “In summary, what have 30 years of spectral observations told us about the physical Sun?”  The solar constant varies only 0.06% both on short and long terms.  “That behavior has basically continued over the entire observational period, with no indication of cycle modulation or secular change.  We conclude that the basal quiet photosphere is constant in temperature within our observational error,” they said.
1O. R. White, L. Wallace, W. Livingston, and M. S. Giampapa, “Sun-as-a-Star Spectrum Variations 1974-2006,” Astrophysical Journal, 657:1137-1149, 2007 March 10, 2007.
2The Maunder Minimum was an unusual period of almost no sunspots from 1645-1715.  Maunder-minimum candidate stars would be those in a similar quiescent state.  Since telescopes were first trained on the sun, sunspot number has risen and fallen in a familiar 11-year cycle except for that 70-year period.  (There is a 22-year period superimposed on the 11-year cycle in which the polarity of the magnetic field reverses.)
3Most of the sun’s heat comes from radiation.  An example of non-radiative heating would be the excitation of the sun’s photosphere from magnetic energy.  This apparently is not happening on the sun; the magnetic energy escapes between the granules.
Congratulations to this team for their perseverance and steadfastness in achieving one of the longest data-gathering experiments in astrophysics.  In science, there is no substitute for data.  Speculation is cheap.  Carl Sagan used to yarn on about how ordinary is our neighborhood in the universe: “We live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star, lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe,” la-de-da-de-da-zzz.  Sounds so scientific till you look at the details.  Yes, there are other solar-type stars, but one in this class that is this quiet and constant now appears to be a rarity.  Combine that with all the other factors that make our world habitable, and it really does look more and more like we live on a Privileged Planet.
Next headline on:  Stellar AstronomySolar SystemPhysics
Turtles Hurtle Through the Sea Magnetically   03/06/2007    
Experiments on sea turtles have shown that they follow the earth’s magnetic field to the exact beach where they were born to lay their eggs.  “It is almost as if they were equipped with a compass pointing towards the beach in question,” says an article on EurekAlert.  “So they can correct any deflection they are subject to: transport by boat, ocean currents...”  Like a guiding beacon, the field keeps them on track even when ocean currents carry them far off course.  The researchers feel that other cues, like smell, may also guide them home.
    The film Life’s Story 2 from Exploration Films shows footage of sea turtles laying their eggs and the young finding their way to the water.
The sea is a mighty big place to get lost.  One beach on a coastline is a mere speck from hundreds of miles out in the ocean.  Who put a compass in a turtle’s head?  Who gave them all the hardware and software to transport their bulky bodies thousands of miles to home base?  Who gave them the ability to dig and lay eggs?  Who taught the babies when to hatch at high tide, and make their way to the water?  How many trillions of turtles had to sink to the bottom or die of beach sunburn while mutations did their random walk through possibility space?  The marine biologists are looking for a few good minds.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyAmazing Facts
Dino Horns: Is Smaller More Evolved?   03/05/2007    
One can never tell which way the evolutionary path will take to determine fitness.  Could be bigger, could be smaller.  Could be faster, could be slower.  Could be better camouflaged, could be flashy.  Michael Ryan (Cleveland Museum) decided that shorter horns on his dinosaur constituted better fitness.  CNN says his discovery, a 20-foot dinosaur in Alberta, was on the way to evolving shorter horns.  Associated Press began, “A new dinosaur species was a plant-eater with yard-long horns over its eyebrows, suggesting an evolutionary middle step between older dinosaurs with even larger horns and the small-horned creatures that followed, experts said.”
    A dinosaur alleged to be 12 million years older also had large horns.  Dinosaurs thought to be later in the fossil record had smaller horns.  One paleontologist had predicted something like Ryan’s specimen would be found.  When it was, he exclaimed, “Lo and behold, evolutionary theory actually works.”
    David Tyler commented on this story on Access Research Network.
...which wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.  Do you think this paleontologist had any doubts?  Was he relieved that his colleague was able to stuff data into a preconceived set of assumptions?  This is like the magic trick where a jokester says to his dupe, “pick a finger – any finger.”  Once selected, the magician scrambles his fingers rapidly then – alacazam! He finds the correct finger that the victim had selected.  Evolution is a foregone conclusion in spite of the data.  If horns were getting bigger, that would mean evolutionary theory actually works.  If they were getting bigger then smaller, or smaller then bigger, that would also mean evolutionary theory actually works.  Evolutionary theory is a GIGO game (garbage-in, garbage-out) where any combination of input produces a satisfying confirmation of expectations (for swine).
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsEvolutionary TheoryDumb Ideas
Punc Eq Pioneer Founds Father & Son Evo-Journal   03/03/2007    
Who made Newsmakers in Science March 2,1 but Niles Eldredge and his son Greg.  Eldredge the dad (you can distinguish the two in the photo by beard color) started the “punctuated equilibrium” evolution revolution in 1972 with Stephen Jay Gould.  The two paleontologists angered many other evolutionists by making it public that the fossil record was systematically lacking transitional forms of the kind traditional evolutionary theory required.  They opted for a theory that evolution proceeded in fits and starts, leaving little fossil evidence of its action.
    Now Niles and Greg are starting a new quarterly journal, Outreach and Education in Evolution, to begin this fall.  The news snippet included the following anecdote:
A favorite family story relates to a class visit to the 2005 Darwin exhibit Niles curated.  Seeing a case displaying various mammalian skeletons, one student was particularly impressed by the hand of a chimp.  “That’s it, I believe the whole thing,” the student exclaimed.
The ID blog Uncommon Descent calls this “keeping the world safe for evolution.”
1Newsmakers, Science Volume 315, Number 5816, Issue of 02 March 2007.
Chief Niles succeeded in sending the young brave on a successful vision quest.  The student at the museum was slain in the spirit of Charlie (05/09/2006, 01/20/2004), fell to the ground writhing in ecstatic visions, and his inventive imagination was awakened (01/17/2007).  The missing links Eldredge could not produce will now appear magically in the mind’s eye of his new convert, a kind of fossil factory in his head.  And now, the tribe will have a new journal to train more shamans, so that they can steer a growing crop of novices into the inner recesses of the cave (02/16/2007 commentary).  This will help to perpetuate the vision quest known as pilgrim’s regress.
Next headline on:  Darwin and Evolutionary TheoryEducation
Evolutionary Theory Not Even Skin Deep   03/02/2007    
A book on skin just was published – no, not one of those books, but a book on the physiology of human skin.  Nina Jablonski wrote Skin: A Natural History (UC Berkeley, 2006) and Qais Al-Awqati (Columbia U) reviewed it in Science.1  The reviewer noticed that “In its discussion of the human skin, the book’s principal theme is evolution, and almost every page contains that word.”  So, how did Jablonski do?  Did she satisfy the reviewer’s hopes that Darwin can explain the naked ape?
Although the author wants to provide an evolutionary perspective on all attributes of skin biology, the accounts she provides seldom rise above the provision of plausible hypotheses.  Is it really true that we were selected to be hairless sweaty creatures?  That sounds possible, but what is the actual evidence for such an assertion?  Is it also true that vitamin D synthesis, a major locus of interaction between sunlight and diet, is the dominant factor in the natural selection of skin color?  This idea is simply presented without any of the documentation that would make a convincing story.  One would like to see the evidence of how rickets (vitamin D deficiency) might act as an agent of evolutionary selection.
Even in the areas of sociology, “The thorny issue of the social construction of the roles of skin color is reduced again to a brief survey of skin color biology and its evolutionary implications.”  At the end of the review, Al-Awqati tried to find a few things to praise, but the shallowness of Jablonski’s evolutionary theorizing extended to her own research.  “Although only a few of Jablonski’s research papers address skin evolution,” he said, “the lack of deep expertise need not prevent a nonspecialist from pulling together findings from different fields to generate an exciting, even fresh view of nature.”  Apparently this book “fell short” of this mark also.
1Qais Al-Awqati, “Anthropology: Showing Some Skin,” Science, 2 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5816, p. 1223, DOI: 10.1126/science.1138921.
If even a fellow evolutionist comes looking for evidence for evolutionary myths and can’t find it, why should anyone else pay attention?  It’s not just the sociology of skin that is Darwin’s thorn in the flesh.  Heat regulation in furry apes is much different than the sweating response in human skin.  Sweat glands are complex structures under the control of the nervous system.  The skin is not just a surface; it has multiple layers with veins, arteries, glands, nerves, hair muscles, sebaceous glands, pores and specialized receptors for touch, heat and pain.
    Werner Gitt in The Wonder of Man says that one square centimeter of skin contains 6 million cells, 100 sweat glands, 15 sebaceous glands, 5,000 sensory corpuscles, 200 pain points, 25 pressure points, 12 cold-sensitive points and 2 heat-sensitive points.  Skin sloughs off dead cells while regenerating new ones in a precise balance.  It is an important barrier to disease germs, and a protection from injury and dehydration.  It performs a respiratory function, absorbing some of the oxygen we use, while letting some carbon dioxide in and out.
    Human skin is an incomparable substance.  Burn victims are not given artificial plastics; they are given skin transplants from live humans.  How does evolution explain the fact that a newborn infant arrives into the world with a vernix coating to protect its skin?  What evolutionary process led to the precise timing of a multitude of changes that occur in the right sequence when a baby is born?  These are all matters of life and death; without them, there would be no human race.
    These observational facts demand causes equal to them.  Creationists have no problem with the question.  Jablonski wrote a whole book on the theme of skin evolution, mentioning the E word on practically every page.  The reviewer was itching for evidence, but only received rash excuses.  Scratch that.
Next headline on:  Human BodyEvolutionary Theory
Dynamic Solar System Illuminated in Stunning New Images   03/01/2007    
Images both striking and beautiful continue to arrive on Earth from remote corners of the solar system.  Arriving as streams of binary digits with energies mere quadrillionths of a watt, received by giant radio dishes then amplified and processed, the results are nothing short of amazing.  Here’s a glimpse of what turned up this week:
  1. Volcanic fury:  Imagine a volcano going off in Texas and covering the entire state with ash.  That’s what happens often on a moon of Jupiter, Io, not much bigger than our moon.  The New Horizons spacecraft is approaching Jupiter on its express ticket to Pluto.  Seven years ago, the Galileo spacecraft snapped amazing pictures of one of Io’s active volcanoes, Tvashtar Catena (see Planetary Photojournal), with fire fountains, lava lakes up to 2400 °F, and plumes a mile high.  Not much has changed.  New Horizons snapped these images (see BBC News) of the plume still spouting 150 miles above the surface.  The caption states, “The volcano ... is surrounded by a dark patch the size of Texas consisting of the fallout from the eruption.”
  2. Glory rings:  The Cassini spacecraft assembled its data bits into some of the most stunning images of Saturn’s rings yet seen since its arrival in 2004.  Now riding high over Saturn during its “180 Transfer” maneuver, it looked up at the dark side of the rings, capturing the entire ring system in a mosaic of 36 images.  The primary mosaic exposed for the dark rings makes the planet blindingly bright, so image processors digitally removed Saturn for this ring composite of 27 images, taken from a million miles above Saturn at 60° inclination.  Browsing the image at high resolution reveals the clumpy F ring beyond the bright main rings.  Studies have shown the “shepherd moons” Pandora and Prometheus stealing material from the rings as they move nearer then farther from the band of orbiting ice.  Saturn’s rings are turning out to be much more dynamic and complex than previously realized.  A movie of Cassini’s ring plane crossing was posted to add a bit of a thrill ride to visitors.  It really gives a sense of how thin the rings are compared to their breadth.
  3. Titan dune buggy:  The latest radar images from Titan (T25, Feb 22) clarified some previously-known wonders.  Image no. PIA09181 shows some of the icy sand dunes in stark relief.  A newly released slide presentation by Ralph Lorenz (Johns Hopkins U) explains current thinking about these dunes, what they are made of, and how they form and move.  About 20% of Titan’s surface is covered in these dunes.  They exist primarily at equatorial latitudes and rise up to 100 meters high.  The presentation shows analogies with Earth sand dunes and says Titan’s dunes can form in about 1,000 years.  Material from methane rain runoff or from particles drifting down from the atmosphere are most likely candidates for the “sand” grains.  The estimated energy of Titan’s winds sets constraints on the size and mass of the particles.  One scientist counted 10,000 individual dunes on Titan—don’t ask her how or why.  You might ask her, though, “watch a dune?”
  4. Titan great lakes:  Investors might want to snatch up the prime lakefront property in Titan’s northern latitudes, as seen in this stunning radar image from the T25 flyby on Feb. 22.  The island shown (see this zoom image) is estimated to be the size of the big island of Hawaii.  If the dark area is indeed liquid methane or ethane, it appears to be deepest in the upper part and shallower near the island.  Finding possible lakes on Titan was exciting, but the amount falls far short of pre-Cassini predictions.
  5. Saturn gallery:  For more ooh-ahh pictures of Saturn taken recently by Cassini’s cameras, visit the Imaging Science album.
  6. Ol’ Sol has soul:  A new twin mission called STEREO is taking awe-inspiring new images of the sun (see National Geographic News).  The top image needs no drum roll.  Images like this can help scientists predict solar radiation risks for future astronauts on missions to the moon and Mars (see ICR article on space hazards).
In other space news, Rosetta just passed Mars (see Astronomy Picture of the Day) on its way to a comet 7 more years from now.  The European Space Agency’s Mars Express and Venus Express are still in operation, and the USA’s Messenger is on the way to Mercury (ESA just approved a Mercury mission, also).  JPL’s Mars program is still in high gear with two rovers and two orbiters hard at work.  And Cassini has over a year of its prime mission left with a probable two- or three-year extended mission – maybe even longer, if all continues to function.  In short, lots of great space science still ahead.
Aren’t these great days to be alive?  Each data bit coming into the giant dishes of the Deep Space Network is a treasure that scientists in earlier times would have died for.  Let’s gather it safely and not let our gold get molded into graven images for idols.
Next headline on:  Solar System

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    Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
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(a publisher of creation and ID materials)

“I was grateful for for help with baloney detecting.  I had read about the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought.  Your comments were helpful and encouraged me that my own ‘baloney detecting’ skill are improving.  I also enjoyed reading your reaction to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your comments on the proper way to question their teachers.”
(a home-schooling mom)

“I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website.  Instead of being objective, the website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory.... Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor?  Or did God guide this evolution?  I don’t know.  But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God.... To deny evolution is to deny God’s creation.  To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation, but to better appreciate it.”
(a student in Saginaw, Michigan)

“I immensely enjoy reading the Creation-Evolution Headlines.  The way you use words exposes the bankruptcy of the evolutionary worldview.”
(a student at Northern Michigan U)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Creation Scientist for March

Dr. Irwin Moon
1907 - 1986

This month we want to remember a science popularizer who had an enormous impact through film.  Dr. Irwin Moon, founder of Sermons from Science and Moody Institute of Science (1945-1996), produced a string of movies that were extremely popular in churches during the 1950s through 1990s.  They are still available from Moody Video and Vision Forum.

Though styles have changed over the years, the series of about 18 films are still well worth watching.  In these films, beginning with God of Creation (1945) through The Ultimate Adventure (1971) and beyond, Dr. Irwin Moon used science to illustrate Biblical truths.  His live demonstrations of scientific principles dazzled audiences.  Subjects included everything from optical illusions, time and relativity, time-lapse photography of flowers blooming, fish sounds, atomic bombs, honeybees, Venus flytraps, blood vessels and almost everything else under the sun in chemistry, biology and physics.

    At one moment he could be frying an egg on a cold piece of wood.  Another he could be shattering a glass with sound.  And another he could be demonstrating how time speeds up or slows down at relativistic speeds, showing how a rattlesnake “sees” heat, or taking the viewer inside a beating heart.

    Sometimes Dr. Moon put his own life at risk with “don’t try this at home” demonstrations.  In Signposts Aloft he flew to a long-lost aircraft in the Sahara from World War II.  In Windows of the Soul he trained his own eyes to see with upside-down lenses, even riding a motorcycle and flying an airplane with the inverted vision his brain had learned to correct.  And in Facts of Faith, he wowed viewers by sending a million volts through his own body, with lightning bolts emerging from his fingertips.

    Expressions of the beauty of creation and the wisdom of God were never far from his lips.  A former pastor and Bible teacher, Dr. Moon knew more about science than many scientists.  Secular versions of the films were popular for years in high schools and colleges.  “Sermons from Science” auditoriums were well attended at several Olympic Games.

    A brief history of Sermons from Science and Dr. Moon’s colorful life story is featured at the Wonders of Science website.  Dr. Moon’s unique method of ministry often struck a chord with military men, college science majors, and other groups that might not be prone to seek out a church.

Fortunately, Dr. Moon’s vision of using science for God’s glory is carried forward in two avenues today.  For decades now, Dean Ortner has continued the ministry of stage demonstrations (currently named Wonders of Science) to illustrate the connection between science and spirit.  Earning the nickname The Million Volt Man, Dean has climaxed hundreds of live demonstrations with the dangerous stunt of sending electrical energy powerful enough to ignite lumber through his whole body.  On stage he sends messages through a beam of light, freezes his shadow, and does many other amazing stunts – each performance wrapped around the gospel.

    The film ministry, too, is stronger than ever, in its rebirth as Illustra Media.  After Moody Institute of Science folded in 1996, the production crew reorganized first as Discovery Media Productions, issuing a steady stream of dazzling creation films on astronomy, biology, zoology and physiology (a good sampling was combined into the trio The Wonders of God’s Creation); another jewel is the duo Journeys to the Edge of Creation.

Over the last few years, Illustra Media has surpassed the outreach of Dr. Irwin’s early films with state-of-the-art productions of high quality and exciting content.  These films have been translated into over 20 languages and are currently having a major impact around the world.  Especially exciting are reports from former Soviet bloc countries that large crowds, hungry for meaning after decades of atheist propaganda, are gathering to watch these films and responding in large numbers.  The latest release, The Case for a Creator will be followed by more this year and next.

    Dr. Moon’s story is an inspiring example of the power of one man’s vision to use creative means, geared to the times, to reach millions of people with the unchanging message of the gospel.  It prompts us to end this story with an old but clever challenge, “What on earth are you doing, for heaven’s sake?”

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.
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from Paul

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

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

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

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

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

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

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

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