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Cosmic Star Formation: When Elegant Theories Are Wrong 06/30/2007
An astronomer wrote about cosmic train wrecks in Science recently.1
Paolo Coppi (Yale) was speaking about galactic mergers, but he could have just as well been talking
about current cosmological models. Things once thought to be understood are coming in for new
scrutiny, now that more powerful telescopes can peer deeper into the veiled hearts of galaxies.
One galaxy in particular, NGC 6240, thought to be the result of a merger, was mapped recently in
In the middle of a rather straightforward article describing
current thinking about what happens when galaxies collide, how stars form, and how black holes behave,
he ended one paragraph with a surprise. It was kind of like the ending word not in the
slang of young people e.g., Astronomers understand star formation NOT!
Detailed observations of nearby galaxies, the only kind we could carry out until recently, identified
two main modes of star formation: powerful and rapid starbursts caused by NGC 6240-like
collisions and the much less dramatic but quasi-steady formation seen in the disk of our Galaxy.
Because objects like NGC 6240 are rare today, one might speculate that most stars form quietly
in disks. The larger, so-called elliptical galaxies, which do not contain much gas, then come
from late-time mergers of smaller disk-dominated galaxies that have turned their gas into stars.
Mergers play a minor role, mainly gravitationally scrambling already-made stars.
While elegant, this story seems wrong.
The problem is that now it appears most star formation appeared early in the history of the universe.
NGC 6240, with two black holes apparently orbiting its center, and no star formation going on today,
may be a common oddball, something that should have been rare, but appears to be
representative of the state of the early universe. Coppi called this very surprising and
something that creates an intriguing new problem for us
Todays elliptical galaxies are red and dead because they contain predominantly old (red)
stars and are not forming new ones. Very surprisingly, some of the elliptical progenitors also appear
to be red and dead. Unless we invoke a new mechanism that rapidly and permanently
stops star formation, the most massive objects in simulations turn out to be too massive and never sufficiently
red and dead.
One solution is to include feedback from the accretion of a supermassive black hole in the models.
There seems to be observational support for actively-accreting black holes in systems like NGC 6240, with
regions of active star formation going on. This plus the surprising discovery that
every nearby elliptical galaxy contains a black hole with a mass proportional to that of the galaxy
strongly hints that rapid star formation and rapid black-hole feeding and growth are both inevitable
and closely connected consequences of a cosmic train wreck like NGC 6240 where gas is gravitationally
squeezed into a very small volume. But where does the language of observation get distinguished from theory
in such a statement?
From that point on, Coppi focused on prospects for improved observations. The Laser
Interferometry Space Antenna (LISA), expected to be operational in 2015, might be able to detect the signature
of black hole mergers through gravitational waves they emit. But there is considerable speculation,
he said, about whether black holes accrete slowly by feeding on their own stars, or form catastrophically
through mergers of galaxies. Hes not even sure LISA would be able to tell.
In his discussion, Coppi was assuming black holes are real. Better not tell him about
other astronomers who are denying that black holes even exist.
A recent article in ScienceNOW Daily News began,
If new calculations are correct, the universe just got even stranger. Scientists at Case Western Reserve
University in Cleveland, Ohio, have constructed mathematical formulas that conclude black holes cannot exist.
The findings--if correct--could revolutionize astrophysics and resolve a paradox that has perplexed
physicists for 4 decades.
Theres no doubt that very massive, compact objects exist in the centers of many galaxies.
Asked what to do with these observations, which lead most astronomers to believe the universe is full of black holes,
[Lawrence] Krauss replies, How do you know theyre black holes?
No one has actually seen a black hole, he says, and anything with a tremendous amount of gravity--such
as the supermassive remnants of stars--could exert effects similar to those researchers have blamed
on black holes.
Krauss and colleagues performed detailed calculations taking into account the relativity of time.
They showed that time stops before a singularity forms, meaning black holes cant form at all.
If so, one consequence is that In essence, physicists have been arguing over
a trick question for 40 years. Their claim is controversial at this time.
Critics point to other observations which support the traditional black hole explanation.
What all might agree on is that the new observations and theories show that the universe is, indeed, getting stranger.
1Paolo Coppi, Inside a Cosmic Train Wreck,
29 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5833, pp. 1852-1854, DOI: 10.1126/science.1139057.
The point of this entry is not to take a position on controversies about star formation,
black holes or galactic mergers, but to illustrate the difference between real objects and scientific objects.
A scientific object is something about which we cannot know directly through experience: a black hole, a quark, the core of
the earth, the interior of the sun, a universal common ancestor, a prebiotic soup, etc. Nobody denies that
cars exist, and that if you drive one into a telephone pole, bad things will happen. But scientific objects
can only be inferred indirectly. Scientists conceive of their objects as useful entities in equations, and
elements of their models in theories. How real are they? That is an entirely different question.
The Chimp-Human 1% Difference: A Useful Lie 06/29/2007
Here we have seen astronomers and cosmologists struggling with and arguing over some scientific
objects. There is no question that they feel these things are real, and believe
they are discussing objective reality, but how can they justify those beliefs? As with Darwinism, new
and better observations frequently raise new puzzles and occasionally threaten to overthrow what was formerly
thought to be well understood. As elegant as some ideas may seem, that alone does not prove
they represent reality. The universe has no obligation to submit to human measures of elegance.
It may have been elegant to envision galaxies aging slowly, with star formation occurring at a relaxed rate
over billions of years. It may have been elegant to envision ellipticals as relics of mergers that stripped
away their gas and left them as museums of already-formed stars. Now what? The new observations
led Coppi to admit, While elegant, this story seems wrong. Now he has to tweak his scientific
objects. Now he has to envision a new mechanism that rapidly and permanently stops star formation,
or has to tweak the models to include feedback from gravitational collapse, or has to keep black holes from
colliding. Then Krauss et al come along and claimed black holes are not real. At what point
can they claim their scientific objects are real objects?
Dr. Steven Goldman (Lehigh U) produced an interesting 12-hour series for the
on this problem: Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It. Weve
mentioned the applicability of these lectures before to questions we often discuss here. In excruciating detail,
Goldman gives example after example of controversy in all areas of science for over 2,000 years.
Are scientists talking about truth and reality, or are they merely playing games, like members of a
fraternity? Do the scientific objects they talk about represent reality or not?
the controversy open. His only suggestion, offered as a personal opinion in the last lecture, was
that we dont talk about scientific objects as realities, but as actualities
useful entities that allow scientists to make headway in their attempts to understand nature.
Yet it should be clear with a little analysis that this is mere quibbling over definitions.
Unless an actuality corresponds to reality, what is it? If it isnt real, or cannot be demonstrated
to be real, then what kind of work are scientists doing? That leads to other serious and troubling
questions: should the public pay for it? If all they are doing is speculating about things
they cannot know, then what value does it have over other kinds of inquiry, that we should grant it
epistemic authority and millions of dollars in funding?
Goldman illustrates the point that almost everything scientists thought they knew
at the turn of the 20th century is now considered to be wrong. There is hardly any scientific object,
whether the earth, the atom, the universe, mass, time, space, the mind, consciousness, or just about anything else from physics
to economics, that is looked at the same way today. A logical corollary is that we have no confidence in 2007 that we understand
scientific objects so well that our ideas will not be overturned a hundred years hence.
These kinds of questions need to be considered every time scientists talk about the objects
of their study as if they are arriving at the truth about the universe. Better data,
better equipment, and better observations are essential. We are not the ones to judge, however,
the point at which our data are so good, and our ideas so solid, that no further scrutiny is needed.
The history of scientific revolutions warns us that even Newtonian physics, the epitome of rock-solid science,
was vulnerable. This is not to say that we must doubt everything. Rocket scientists, after all,
do get spaceships to Saturn at the right spot and the right time. Scientists must be doing something right.
When observations continue to contradict theory for decades, though, and when the scientific objects involved are
especially remote and far from experience, there is one law that actually gains credibility:
Next headline on:
Jon Cohen made a remarkable admission in Science this week.1 The popular notion
that humans and chimpanzees are genetically 99% similar is a myth, and should be
discarded. Since 1975, textbooks, the media and museums have emphasized this close similarity; but
now, Cohen quoted a number of scientists who say the number cannot possibly be that small and probably
cannot be quantified. Since the statistic has outlived its usefulness, it should be discarded.
The original claim by Allan Wilson in 1975 came from studies of base substitutions when
genes were compared side by side. Other comparisons, however, yield very different results.
Human and chimp genomes differ markedly in:
In this last measure, for instance, a 17.4% difference was found in genes expressed in the cerebral cortex.
Cohen recalled the December 2006 paper from PLoS One where Matthew Hahn found a whopping 6.4%
difference in gene copy numbers, leading him to say, gene duplication and loss may have played a greater
role than nucleotide substitution in the evolution of uniquely human phenotypes and certainly a greater
role than has been widely appreciated. (see 12/20/2006 entry).
- Chunks of missing DNA
- Extra genes
- Number of chromosomes and chromosome structure
- Altered connections in gene networks
- Indels (insertions and deletions)
- Gene copy number
- Coexpressed genes
But even that number is misleading. Different measures produce such different results, it is probably
impossible to come up with a single percent difference that wouldnt misrepresent the picture. Scientists are
not sure how to prioritize the measures to study, because it remains a daunting task to link genotype
to phenotype. Sorting out the differences that matter is really difficult, said
one geneticist. A stretch of DNA that appears meaningless may actually be vital for gene regulation.
Whats most remarkable about this confession is how certain evolutionary biologists are evaluating the
claim in hindsight. In the 1970s, it was considered a heretical view that our genomes could be
that similar, but Cohen comments, Subsequent studies bore their conclusion out, and today we take as a given
that the two species are genetically 99% the same. But Truth be told, he begins in the
next sentence, the inaccuracy of the statistic was known from the start:
But truth be told, Wilson and King also noted that the 1% difference wasnt the whole story.
They predicted that there must be profound differences outside genesthey focused on gene
regulationto account for the anatomical and behavioral disparities between our knuckle-dragging
cousins and us. Several recent studies have proven them perspicacious again, raising the question of
whether the 1% truism should be retired.
At the end of the article, Cohen quoted Svante Paabo, who said something even more revealing. After admitting
he didnt think there was any way to calculate a single number, he said, In the end, its a political and
social and cultural thing about how we see our differences.
For many, many years, the 1% difference served us well because it was underappreciated how
similar we were, says Pascal Gagneux, a zoologist at UC San Diego. Now its totally
clear that its more a hindrance for understanding than a help.
1Jon Cohen, News Focus on Evolutionary Biology, Relative Differences: The Myth of 1%,
29 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5833, p. 1836, DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5833.1836.
This is a very disturbing article. We have basically caught the
Darwinists in a bald lie that has hoodwinked the world for over 30 years. Gagneux says, For many,
many years, the 1% difference served us well stop right there! Who is us?
Was it the millions of school children and laymen who were lied to? Was it the majority of people who believe
God created mankind, suffering under an onslaught of lies told in the name of science?
Darwins House: A Religious Shrine? 06/28/2007
No! Us refers to the
members of the Darwin Party, the dogmatists who shamelessly lied to advance their agenda. They had a strategy
to portray humans and chimpanzees as similar as possible, in order to make their myth of common descent seem more
plausible. Now, 32 years later, they have come clean, without any remorse, only because the usefulness of that
lie has run out, and needs to be replaced by new lies. They had a political, social and cultural agenda
that, in many cases, worked for 32 years. Truth be told, he said. Too late.
These guys wouldnt know Truth if it bit them on the lips. Truth that evolves, or that is an emergent
property of material particles, is not the Truth.
For other examples of the Useful Lie tactic used by Darwin propagandists,
05/31/2007 and many others under the chain links Darwin and Education
that have been exposed on this website. Liars, we bare. Buyers, beware.
Next headline on:
Britain withdrew Darwins home, Downe House (outside London), from consideration as a UN World Heritage Site,
and Nature seemed downright disappointed.1 An article quoted Darwin
scholar James Moore saying, Muslims go to Mecca, Christians go to Jerusalem, Darwinians
go to Downe. This seems to equate Darwinians with believers in a religion, but
Nature quoted this proudly.
What would be the statement of faith of a Darwinian religion? The
article quoted Randal Keynes, great-great-grandson of Darwin and the one who originally
submitted the nomination of Downe House to UNESCOs World Heritage Committee for consideration. Keynes
felt that the house symbolized the following values: the understanding of the natural world by observation, hypothesis,
experiment, free and wide exchange of information and ideas, theory-building and communication.
The British government, worried that the UN would reject the nomination on grounds
that the site was neither naturally or architecturally unique, decided to withdraw it before the
vote. Nature called this a setback but said the nomination will be back
in two years, in 2009 the 200th anniversary of Darwins birth and 150th anniversary
of The Origin of Species.
On a related note, Richard Lane of the Natural History Museum wrote Nature complaining
about their criticism that the Darwin Centre Phase Two was too small. They cant expect it to
display Darwins entire insect and plant collection to the public, he said; buildings cost money.
Some of it will be on display and the rest will be available for researchers. That will have to
do for now.
1Henry Nichols, Darwin down but not out,
447, 896 (21 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/447896a.
2Richard Lane, Darwin Centre will be fit for its range of purposes,
447, 908 (21 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/447908e.
Look no further if you need evidence that Darwinians worship
their little bearded buddha. They said it (see also
Theyve got their Mecca. All they need now is finch-beak-shaped
minarets to remind the faithful to bow toward Downe House six times a day and pray for the destruction
of creationism. They already have their terrorism down to a science
News #1, #2;
book burning, too: #3).
Chimp Altruism: Is it All True? 06/27/2007
Lets see how the Darwin faithful are keeping up to the Statement of Faith.
Theres a word for people who profess one thing and do another. We dont
care to visit Downe House because of all the hypocrites in the
- The understanding of the natural world: if they really understood it, they would
see design, stasis and decay, not evolution. Their method of understanding is to presuppose
evolution as a fact and to fit every bit of data into their a priori belief system.
- by observation: Have they observed the Cambrian explosion? fossils out
of order from Charlies myth? living fossils? catastrophism?
- by hypothesis: The Darwinians are good at speculating on causes, but hypothesis is only the
starting hunch for a scientific quest (see 01/15/2004 commentary),
not science itself.
- by experiment: Tell us, Darwinites, how you plan to experiment on history.
Tell us how you plan to show us one phylum evolving into another, when they all appeared
simultaneously in the earliest layers of the fossil record. Extrapolating
minor changes is a logical fallacy.
Need we also remind readers that Darwin did not invent experimental science?
The experimental method goes back to 11th century Christian Europe at least,
when Hugh of St. Victor, Richard Grosseteste, Roger Bacon and others urged observation and experimentation
as a means of glorifying God and obeying the Genesis mandate. The values that lead to scientific
investigation can be traced back to King Solomon or even Adam.
What experiments did Darwin do to
try to confirm his theory? None! He observed a lot of animals and plants that live in the
present barnacles, orchids, pigeons, the plants in his fields but never experimented on
how they might become new species. He only speculated on how they might evolve over
unseen ages of time.
- Free and wide exchange of information and ideas: Great idea. When do they
start? (06/22/2007). No controversy with creationists
and ID people here.
- Theory building: This is meaningless without explaining what is meant by
theory. Only a very loose use of the word would permit Darwins one long argument to
be considered a theory. Critic David Berlinski said that the evidence adduced in support
of Darwins theory, like oscillating sizes of finch beaks, does not even rise to the level of anecdote.
- Communication: Another great idea, if only. The Darwinites are masters
at indoctrination (see CMI for
one recent analysis of how schools mislead and indoctrinate students with flawed arguments).
Communication implies the communion of ideas between two parties,
not the one-way imposition of dogmas onto a target audience.
Church Mosque of Darwin.
Next headline on:
Humans are the only inhabitants of earth that are masters of true altruism: helping others with
no thought of reward. Previous experiments had shown that chimpanzees lack this
trait. Given an opportunity to help another chimp get a banana, they showed no
pattern of charity. New experiments by researchers at the
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have contradicted
the earlier studies, indicating
a possible simple altruistic behavior.
In three experiments, chimps unable to reach a banana
did make it possible 80% of the time for a neighbor in an adjacent room to obtain it,
even if it was costly to them, and they had to use a newly acquired skill to give access to the food.
For a control, they tried it with human infants and got similar outcomes.
The research was published in PLoS Biology.1. Acknowledging that
their work differed from previous experiments, they said, These results indicate that
chimpanzees share crucial aspects of altruism with humans, suggesting that the roots of
human altruism may go deeper than previous experimental evidence suggested.
The news media are expressing these results as evidence of ethical behavior
in the animal world: Is it a chimp help chimp world? asked
Chimps not so selfish after all, announced
Research shows chimps can be selfless, said Charles Q. Choi at
Observations may shed light on evolution of altruism.
Some of the articles include views by those skeptical of the results.
Choi mentioned that it is not clear chimpanzees in the wild would behave like those in
captivity. News@Nature also brought this up; Joan Silk (UCLA) also wondered if the
age of the chimps mattered, or if other factors contributed to the outcome. But
none of the reports questioned whether altruism
had evolved, but whether these experiments showed how it evolved.
News@Nature ended by asking whether Human society... has cultivated a trait that was
already present, rather than inventing it anew. The authors of the paper,
Warneken et al, said, The evolutionary roots of human altruism may thus
go deeper than previously thought, reaching as far back as the last common ancestor
of humans and chimpanzees.
From another angle, Science
Now speculated earlier this month that humans are altruistic because it feels good. Adam Hinterthuer wrote,
You dont need to donate to charity to feel all warm inside. Researchers have found
that even when money is taken from some people involuntarily, they feel good about the transaction,
as long as the funds go to a good cause. Does this explain why people succumb to the
legal plunder known as paying taxes? Neuroscientists at the University of Oregon measured a warm
glow reaction using MRI when 19 female subjects gave (or lost) money that they were told went for a
good cause. Presumably, this shows humans are neurologically wired for warm-glow reactions. It appears
to provide a selfish explanation for giving. What seems to be lacking is an explanation for how the
warm-glow response became attached to altruism via mutations, and passed on to ones descendents by
1 Felix Warneken, Brian Hare, Alicia P. Melis, Daniel Hanus, Michael Tomasello,
Spontaneous Altruism by Chimpanzees and Young Children,
Library of Science: Biology 5(7): e184 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050184.
So wheres the Monkey Red Cross, or the United
Apes Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization? Why dont The Monkeys
organize a rock concert (03/27/2007) to raise
funds for Banana Aid? The chimp behavior only underscores the gulf between
me, thee, and the chimpanzee.
Giant Fossil Penguins Lived in Warm Waters 06/26/2007
Animals in captivity often take cues from their human caregivers and
respond in ways that are likely to produce rewards. Your dog probably shows more charity to you than these apes
ever would (though Lassie shows never revealed the off-set director with his cues). Even
in the wild, animals often show care and sacrifice (think ants, bees, and March of the
Penguins). These acts, however, are limited to the population, explained as learned
adaptations that help pass on the genes of the species. Mutualistic symbiosis also
has selfish evolutionary stories. (Darwinism is built on SELF as the
Evolutionists have felt they have had plausible just-so stories for all behavior but this one: true,
self-sacrificing altruism toward strangers. Thats why the excitement every
time an experiment suggests or appears to shed light (Darwinian code
for hoping in the dark) on a missing puzzle piece for their scheme. Did you notice
their explanation? Its becoming all too familiar. They pushed the origin of the
trait further back into the misty past, suggesting it arose millions of years earlier
in a remote, mythical, unspecified common ancestor. This is how they lock up their
documents in the basement. When we want to see them, they just smile and say,
Good grief, the neighboring chimps banged on the door so loud the
altruistic ones probably gave in just to get some peace and quiet.
Lets see the chimpanzees organize a campaign to rescue an endangered species
like rational humans.
Next headline on:
Giant prehistoric penguins? In Peru? puzzled a reporter on
Daily. It sounds more like something out of Hollywood than science,
but a fossil penguin you could look eye to eye with has been found that far north.
We tend to think of penguins as being cold-adapted species, said one of
the discoverers, but not all species live in cold waters. These fossils
seem to contradict some of what we think we know about the relationship between
penguins and climate, she said.
This one was surprising not only for its locale and size (1.5m standing height).
It comes from a stratum considered tens of millions of years earlier than expected and
during a period when the earth was much warmer than it is now.
See also National
Geographic and EurekAlert.
Summing up: (1) the fossils are tens of millions of years
out of order. (2) One of the two species was larger than any penguin alive today as tall as a human.
(3) It had a larger beak: Both new species had long narrow pointed beaks -- now
believed to be an ancestral beak shape for all penguins.
(3) It was found at an equatorial latitude, indicating a richer biodiversity in the
past. (4) Everyone was surprised by these findings. Conclusion: another victory for
Could Continents Be Flooded? 06/26/2007
Encore: (5)... during a period when the earth was much warmer
than it is now (36 million years ago). Conclusion: we must take drastic measures because
humans are responsible for global warming.
Next headline on:
Picture the tips of the Rocky Mountains sticking out of water. Thats what would
happen if North America did not have enough heat at depth to cause the continent to float on
the mantle, reported Science
A University of Utah study shows how various regions of North America are kept afloat by heat
within Earths rocky crust, and how much of the continent would sink beneath sea level if not
for heat that makes rock buoyant....
It goes without saying that all the coastal cities would be submerged under thousands of
feet of water Los Angeles, for instance, would be at minus 3,756 feet.
Mile-high Denvers elevation would be 727 feet below sea level and Salt Lake City, now
about 4,220 feet, would sit beneath 1,293 feet of water. But high-elevation areas of the
Rocky Mountains between Salt Lake and Denver would remain dry land.
The Bible says that during the height of the Flood,
all the high mountains were covered. Most likely there were no Rocky Mountains
at the time. As a consequence of tectonic upheavals that
brought on the Flood, mountains were pushed up and the ocean basins sank down
Anthropologist warns that claims about early-man fossils are based on erroneous assumptions, from
The geologists mentioned in this article would most likely laugh at the Biblical
account. We should remind them of what geologists David Stevenson (Caltech) admitted
about how little we know of what lies below (see
see also 11/05/2003).
Weve seen geologists change their stories drastically many times
Even the current paradigm of plate tectonics is not on solid ground
Explaining the continents involves balancing contradictory forces and is not
well understood (06/27/2002). An Eyewitness was
there and told us what happened. Why not check out His credibility as you would
with any other witness?
Hikers on mountains feel like they are on terra firma,
and they are in the present epoch. But the heat below and forces
under the crust can cause catastrophic change. On a planet 70% covered with water,
people often forget how unusual continents are, and how much water would be available
to cover them if God were to level the playing field.
Next headline on:
Our Complex Brains: Lessons from Phrenology 06/25/2007
This is your brain on science: it is too complex for simplistic diagrams. Back in the
19th century, the science of phrenology was in full swing. Phrenologists divided
the brain into more than two dozen regions of mental faculties that controlled such things as instincts for eating
and sex, sensation of color, language ability, and even moral and intellectual qualities such as love, wisdom,
poetry and ability to ponder metaphysics. Once these regions were mapped out, some practitioners
believed they could rate your abilities by feeling the bumps on your head. These beliefs
quickly degenerated into ranking races and groups as intellectually superior or inferior.
Even into the late 20th century, it was common for textbooks to subdivide the
brain into distinct functional regions. There is observational
support for this: we know that sensory organs (eyes, ears) map to localized regions in the brain,
and that sensory and mental disorders can be traced to sites of damage or poor development. In addition,
the brain does have a noticeable structure: a stem, a hypothalamus, white matter, gray matter,
the cerebral cortex and other recognizable parts. The left and right hemispheres have different
properties though not to the degree to support popular misconceptions that women are right-brained
and men are left-brained, or that artists are right-brained and scientists are left-brained.
Neuroscience of the brain is a rapidly growing field. The brain can be approached through
multiple paths. Scientists can strive to understand the workings of individual brain cells, such as the
varieties of neurons and glial cells.
Others can monitor brain waves during various activities. The effects of diet,
exercise and sleep can be measured. Comparative anatomy can compare and contrast brain structure
and function in lab rats, cats, monkeys and humans. And the effects of brain damage can
be ascertained. Our ability to probe the brains secrets have become increasingly
sophisticated with MRI, fluorescent proteins, genetic engineering and more.
We have learned much, but there is
a vast undiscovered landscape within the brain still to be understood. Some idea of the status
of brain research can be found in a couple of recent papers. They show one clear lesson: that ideas
about localized functional areas are far too simplistic. Phrenology was wrong. The entire brain
is in constant communication: function cannot be restricted to distinct regions, and we still have the
profound mind-body problems about the seat of consciousness and intellect. Actually,
phrenology might have served as a useful heuristic device, an attempt to bring order out of complexity,
but it is dismissed as pseudoscientific today. Here are some of the recent indications that more
than we can imagine is going on at the nexus of structure and function.
Knight ended his review with a comment about neuroinformatics one of the most baffling questions of all:
- PhreNOlogy: Robert Knight in Science June 15 commented about recent papers
that debunk phrenology.1 His first paragraph pretty much sums up the verdict:
Systems neuroscience aims to understand how billions of neurons in the mammalian
brain support goal-directed behavior, such as decision making. Deciphering how individual
neurons respond to sensory inputs or motor decisions has focused on delineating the neural basis of
these processes in discrete regions of the brains cortex, and has provided key insights into
the physiological basis of behavior. However, evidence from neuropsychological,
electrophysiological, and neuroimaging studies in humans has revealed that interactions between widespread
neural regions in the brain underlie fluid, organized behavior. Two papers in this issue, by
Womelsdorf et al. on page 1609 and Saalmann et al. on page 1612, and a recent paper in Science
by Buschman and Miller, unravel the details of these interactions by assessing the simultaneous activity
of neurons in multiple sites of the mammalian brain. The studies show that network interactions
among anatomically discrete brain regions underlie cognitive processing and dispel any phrenological notion
that a given innate mental faculty is based solely in just one part of the brain.
Researchers found multiple regions of the brain responding to the same visual tasks in monkeys.
There appeared to be feedback between widely-separated regions. Some of these regions communicate
at different frequencies of oscillations. The current picture is one of neural networks involving
the entire brain, not just localized regions responding to sensory inputs.
- Primer: Stewart Shipp gave readers of Current Biology a primer on brain structure.2
He began by giving a reason why our gray matter has its odd, wrinkled shape. It provides efficiency in wiring:
The grey matter of the cerebral cortex is a convoluted, layered sheet of tissue,
2-3 millimetres thick in man but with a surface area of several hundred square centimetres. This is
not an adaptation to promote gaseous exchange, or heat loss rather, if the grey matter is
compact in at least one dimension, it is outgoing axons that may readily escape it; once
outside, they club together and form the cortical white matter. If grey and white were
intermixed, the average separation of neurons would be greater, creating extra neural wiring.
The speed of cortical computation would suffer accordingly.
Thus the reason for regions of function. Nevertheless, its not the whole story: there is
also a great deal of cross communication between regions, as well as cross-level communication within
The principle of economic wiring can also be invoked to account for
regional specialisation of function across the surface area of the cortex. Put simply,
neurons performing similar roles need to communicate, and do so more efficiently if nearby.
Shipp described how columns of neurons (perpendicular to the layering) were found to correspond to
distinct parts of the body: a patch of skin, for instance, might activate a column of neurons within the motor
region. But there is also communication parallel to the layering across columns, and this is where
the simple idea of distinct regions breaks down:
Moving tangentially through the sheet (parallel with the plane of layering) the discovery was that neighbouring
columns have neighbouring receptive fields — the ensemble of columns ultimately giving rise to a cortical
map of the relevant sensory surface. In sensory cortex, this engenders the one map, one area
principle for parcelling the cortical surface into discrete areas, each of which is thought to
have some nuance of functional specialisation. Cortical areas are richly interconnected
with each other and with subcortical structures and the layering of the cortex reflects the radial
organisation of all these input-output relationships. Indeed, the layered pattern is rather uniform
over the expanse of the sheet, as if to serve basic housekeeping operations that generalise
across cortical applications as diverse as colour vision, speech and music.
Some regions are well known the primary motor cortex and the primary visual cortex but
These variations in cortical architecture have long been treated purely cartographically,
betraying a lack of any analytic insight into the way different applications might modulate layer
structure and function, he said, further debunking phrenology. This is largely because,
as documented below, our appreciation of layers is still rooted rather more securely in anatomical
than physiological cortical characteristics. The whole picture requires both.
We know more about the visual cortex because it has received an order of magnitude more
study than other regions of the brain. The emerging picture is more of multiple layers of structure
and function, with cross-communication and feedback between all of them. The brain must be
seen as an entire network of interacting systems. Yes, areas with discrete functions tend to be
collocated, but the brain as a system cannot be carved up into chunks.
This brings us to Shipps tongue-in-cheek conclusion: the brain is your fiend.
The complexities of cortical circuitry are nothing short of fiendish, and the problem of
integrating genetic, morphological and physiological details from diverse cortical areas and across diverse
species is a worthy challenge to the burgeoning science of neuroinformatics. Though
inconsistencies abound, the fact that some trans-areal, trans-specific generalisations are
possible, and justified, is a quite remarkable observation. Following the strategy of
know thine enemy, it appears that the cortical fiend has some interesting habits,
which we can usefully begin to tag with some shorthand, functional labels.
Neuroinformatics a very suggestive word.
One mystery remains: How is information in oscillatory activity encoded? The individual
spike train rate (the number of times a neuron fires each second) or spiking frequency (the
rhythm at which a neuron fires) is not sufficient for coding the vast array of processes that underlie
perception, memory, or decision making. Nevertheless, the three groups have laid the groundwork
for deciphering this neural code.
The mind-body problem, therefore, is still with us. How does the soul, the mind, consciousness,
intellect, wisdom, morality, and abstract reasoning correlate with a physical object, the brain? The problem becomes
apparent as you think about thinking about this right now. Your eyes are receiving light waves.
Those inputs are traveling to your optic nerve, and to the visual cortex of your brain.
Neurotransmitters are being secreted across synapses. Billions of cells are involved in the
process of reading these words. Yet writer and reader each have a sense of communicating information
through space. You may be across the planet from the one who wrote this. We sense ourselves reasoning
about abstract concepts that cannot be reduced to atoms and molecules. Information is being conveyed and
stored. Values are being expressed. That information can cause the reader to command body parts
to move in response.
Where is the connection between concept and atom, between mind and molecule? The mysteries
are profound. They have occupied the minds of the worlds greatest philosophers for thousands
of years. One thing is clear: dont expect a simplistic model like phrenology to satisfy
the requirements for explanation.
1Robert T. Knight, Neural Networks Debunk Phrenology,
15 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5831, pp. 1578-1579, DOI: 10.1126/science.1144677.
2Stewart Shipp, Structure and function of the cerebral cortex,
Vol 17, R443-R449, 19 June 2007.
If you were living in the 19th century, would you have been swayed
by the claims of the phrenologists? Would they have influenced you to think they were onto
something scientific? Would you have come in for a sitting for a skilled phrenologist to feel
the bumps on your head, and tell you about your abilities? Well, you would have been misled.
One can only wonder about the mischief done to victims of this simplistic pseudoscience
students influenced toward wrong careers based on the verdict of a phrenologist that he or she
was poor at art or wisdom or abstract reasoning; false pride given to fools who were told they were
intellectually superior; and worst of all, whole classes of people who were deemed unfit or defective
based on their skull features. The Rwandan genocide can be traced to phrenology. The
Dutch began a racist segregation of two very similar tribes, the Hutus and Tutsis, based on alleged
intellectual differences. Those tensions grew until the genocide of 1994 that killed
nearly a million people (see Touchstone
Council of Europe Officially Condemns Creationism and I.D. 06/22/2007
Yet are we immune today? We still fall for the same old tricks. Heres
a simple one: the brain of a stegosaurus was proportionally small for its body size, therefore stegos were stupid.
While that probably was true in some sense, do you see the hidden assumption?
The statement assumes that bigger is better.
Sometimes more power and efficiency can occupy a smaller space.
Your small laptop computer is more powerful than a bulky 1970s mainframe.
Maybe the stego had much more efficient and compact neurons than we do, or a better organized neural network.
Who knows; maybe they were actually good at philosophy but didnt leave any written records. We jest,
but beware the logical traps of begging the question and
glittering generalities. Evolutionary paleoanthropologists
are often guilty of this (e.g., 01/27/2004).
A study of the history of science is valuable as a warning about pitfalls in
reasoning that can become part of an accepted cultural mythology, sometimes for decades and centuries.
OK, so phrenology is wrong. Dont think that todays neuroscientists
and psychologists have it right. The myth of progress tempts us to assume that whatever is newer
is better. Yes, we have better tools and a much more precise observational database about the
details of the system, but the complexities of the mind and the brain remain vast and seemingly intractable.
Todays evolutionary neuroscientists are trying to tell us that love, altruism and morality
are due to brain mutations in our primitive ancestors. To what mutations do they attribute
Shipp advises us to know the enemy and attack the cortical fiend inside us. In some respects, given what
we know of human nature
that metaphor might generate some productive heuristics.
Next headline on:
A lengthy and strident policy document was issued by the
Council of Europe
denouncing creationism. The summary statement makes it clear there is no compromise possible, because
religious fundamentalists are behind it, and that
creationism and intelligent design must be firmly and unequivocally opposed. Evolution, by contrast,
is given supreme status as the explanation for everything:
The theory of evolution is being attacked by religious fundamentalists who call for creationist theories
to be taught in European schools alongside or even in place of it. From a scientific view point there is absolutely
no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth.
The document issued June 8 contains 18 sections of a Draft Resolution with recommendations, and
105 numbered sections of an Explanatory Memorandum written by one Mr. Guy Lengagne,
elaborating on these themes. Creationism is continually portrayed
as a threat to education, democracy and human rights, and therefore it must be stopped at all costs.
The warfare motif appears often. In the Draft Resolution:
Creationism in any of its forms, such as intelligent design, is not based on facts,
does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are pathetically inadequate for science classes.
The Assembly calls on education authorities in member States to promote scientific knowledge
and the teaching of evolution and to oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline.
1. The Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist theories within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights, which are a key concern of the Council of Europe....
Notice also that creationism is linked to political conservatism. The Explanatory Memorandum adds,
12. The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most
often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied
to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements
possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been
exposed on several occasions, is that the advocates of strict creationism
are out to replace democracy by theocracy....
14. The teaching of all phenomena concerning evolution as a
fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our
societies and our democracies. For that reason it must occupy a central
position in the curriculum, and especially in the science syllabus.....
89. ....The theory of evolution constitutes a body of fundamental
knowledge for the future of our democracies and cannot be arbitrarily
Given the central importance of evolution to the future of democracy, the authors
of this document must have been convinced that
the evidence is strong and incontrovertible. To what evidence, therefore, did they turn?
The part that most directly addresses this question is paragraph 12 of the Explanatory Memorandum:
94. ....The teaching of evolution by natural selection as a fundamental
scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and
12. There is a considerable body of scientific evidence concerning evolution.
Scientists have shown that evolution is a fact because of
This list is surprising, because since Darwins time and even more so today, paleontology has been
one of the weakest sources of evidence for evolution, and today, genetics remains a source of heated
controversy and contention so much so, that creationists and intelligent design proponents
have been using both of these as effective hammers against evolutionary theory (e.g.,
next entry). Also,
continental drift has nothing to do with evolution, and asserting that organisms share
characteristics, or that humans are links
in the long chain of evolution, merely restates what the document is trying to prove.
13. It should be pointed out that the human being is just one of the links in the long chain of evolution.
- the evidence provided by palaeontological data,
- the numerous cases of characteristics shared by organisms with a common ancestor,
- the reality of continental drift,
- direct observations of genetic changes in populations.
The document elaborates on the alleged evidences in the subsequent paragraphs.
The only other evidences cited in favor of evolution are bacterial resistance and the
adaptation of organisms to their environments. Neither of these, however, is doubted by creationists.
Bacterial resistance is due to loss of genetic specificity, they would say, and would argue
that the fit of organisms to their environment points to design, not evolution.
Sections 23-28 deal with the rules of science argument. Excerpts:
24. ....science is the totality of operations that produce objective knowledge.
A statement on the world can only be described as objective if it has been verified
by an independent observer. This verification depends on three factors: scepticism,
rationality and logic and, finally, methodological materialism. These three pillars ensure
the objectivity of a scientific result.
Yet whenever the leading proponents of intelligent design, many of whom have one or more PhDs in the sciences from
prestigious universities, try to practice this skepticism using rational and logical arguments, they are routinely
shut out of the debate. Furthermore, no modern philosopher of science would accept uncritically the claim that science produces
objective knowledge, and many would differ with the view that methodological materialism is essential to science.
That was certainly not the case with the founders of science nor with many practicing scientists today.
It is, in fact, what Darwin skeptics point to as a straitjacket that forces conclusions contrary to the evidence.
Methodological materialism becomes indistinguishable in practice from philosophical materialism, they argue,
when design is prohibited as a cause.
25. Scientific research on the subject of evolution has been no exception.
The bulk of the document (sections 29-79) details the threat posed by the rise of creationism
in Europe, country by country. The writings of Harun Yahya in Turkey are given particular scorn,
but no distinction is made in any creationist material: Christian, old-earth, young-earth, Muslim, scientific,
intelligent design. All creationism is portrayed as equally flawed and equally contemptible.
Sections 80 to the end claim that creationism is harmful to education.
To the degree creationism is a threat to democracy, human rights, social justice, rationality, scientific progress and every other
kind of good, evolution is lifted up as the greatest salve for every ill, the greatest positive force in civilization,
the great unifying theory of science and the greatest answer to every question in the Universe.
In short, The truth and scientific nature of evolution remain irrefutable today, states
paragraph 89, and introducing creationist ideas would only bring confusion into the classroom.
Creationism, which is equated to religious fundamentalism, contributes to The total rejection of science
which is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights. (Resolution, 11).
So what should be done? The end of the Draft Resolution makes the following recommendations:
18. The Parliamentary Assembly therefore urges the member states, and especially their education authorities, to:
Creation groups would heartily endorse the first three points, but would notice a strange disconnect starting at 18.4.
18.1. defend and promote scientific knowledge;
18.2. strengthen the teaching of the foundations of science, its history,
its epistemology and its methods alongside the teaching of objective scientific knowledge;
18.3. make science more comprehensible, more attractive and closer to the realities
of the contemporary world;
18.4. firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal
footing with the theory of evolution by natural selection and in general resist presentation of creationist
theories in any discipline other than religion;
18.5. promote the teaching of evolution by natural selection as a fundamental scientific theory
in the school curriculum.
The resolution concludes by saying, The Assembly welcomes the fact that, in June 2006, 27 Academies of
Science of Council of Europe member states signed a declaration on the teaching of evolution and calls on
academies of science that have not yet done so to sign the declaration. One would be hard pressed to
find any other scientific theory that requires a declaration by political entities for its support.
What is the Council of Europe?1
Founded in 1949, it seeks to develop throughout
Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference
texts on the protection of individuals. The COE currently has 48 member states and 5 observer countries,
including the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the Vatican.
A former Soviet dissident writing for the
Brussels Journal fears that the European Union in general is
headed for a dictatorship. Calling it a monster that must be destroyed, that is endangering freedoms, he said
What you observe, taken into perspective, is a systematic introduction of ideology which could later be
enforced with oppressive measures.
Update 07/12/2007: The
ACLJ reported that its sister organization in Europe
defeated the resolution from being adopted on the grounds it violated freedom of expression, free exercise of
religion, and academic freedom. Their
document calling for defeat of the proposal was published online.
1The Committee on Culture, Science and Education that voted for the
resolution on May 31 included 30 voting members, though an equal or greater number of members were not present to vote.
There was one vote against it and one abstention. The Explanatory Memorandum of Mr. Lengagne relied
heavily on works by Pascal Picq (paleoanthropologist) and Jacques Arnoult, a researcher at the French
National Centre for Space Studies and a Dominican monk. For documentation on the opposition,
a number of articles on creationism as seen by its supporters were found on the internet,
none of which were listed.
The COEs angry tirade reads like Mein Kampf, a ridiculous rant by a madman
who was only a threat when he gained power. Similarly, this document is easily refuted on every point
(mountains of rebuttals in 7 years of these pages), and is almost laughable in its shallowness.
But give the Darwin Party power to enforce these views, and this is easily the kind of policy that could
produce persecution. Talk about human rights: there are some radical Darwinists who feel so strongly
about this they would put creationists in zoos (at best) and kill them for thinking unDarwinian thoughts (at worst).
How completely inverted to point to creationists as a threat to human rights and democracy, when we just endured
the bloodiest century in the history of man with states dedicated to advancing Charles Darwins dangerous
idea. Theocracy? Try atheocracy.
Crisis at Both Ends of Darwins Tree 06/21/2007
Aware of charges like this, paragraph 87 tries to distance evolution from social Darwinism, calling
the latter an aberration:
Social Darwinism is an ideology that claims to have been inspired by Darwin but it has nothing to do
with the Darwinian theory of evolution (italics theirs). Darwin is not responsible for
the deviations from his theory after his death, they shouted: It is absolutely scandalous to
present Darwin as the
father of terrorism, and that may sow doubt and bewilderment in the minds of many young and inexperienced
individuals. They point to the wars that were done in the name of religion.
Must we repeat? There is a direct line of reasoning from survival of the
fittest to social Darwinism, eugenics (Francis Galton = Charlies cousin) and the totalitarian
regimes Darwin inspired (Stalin read The Origin and became an atheist). By contrast, there is no way anyone can
get religious war and theocracy out of the teachings of Jesus (blessed are the meek, love your neighbor as yourself,
pray for those who persecute you, turn the other cheek, greater love has no man than one lay down his
life for his friends). Jesus taught dying to oneself and serving others, submitting oneself to God
in meekness and humility. Past wars in the name of Jesus stemmed from corruptions of His
teachings by power-hungry leaders of institutions. (Most of such wars arguably stemmed from political and economic factors
primarily, with religious differences as a tacked-on rationalization; e.g., the Thirty Years War.)
The totalitarian leaders of communism and nazism, by contrast,
looked to Darwin as their hero and the one who provided a scientific justification for their actions.
As an example of the shallowness of the COE document, look at their treatment of evolutionary
psychology in paragraph 90:
90. It is important to point out that the theory of evolution has had a profound effect
on science in general, philosophy, religion and many other aspects of human society (for example,
agriculture). Evolution has also entered the field of psychology: evolutionist psychology
is a field of psychology that aims to explain the mechanisms of human thought on the basis of the theory
of biological evolution. It is based on the fundamental hypothesis that the brain, like all the
other organs, is the result of evolution and thus constitutes an adaptation to specific environmental
constraints, to which the ancestors of the Hominidae were forced to respond.
It seems to escape the notice of dear Mr. Lengagne that he has just shot his argument
in the foot. Weve explained this so many times here, this time lets let Dr. Michael
Egnor do it for us: see
Lengagnes treatment of the Galileo Affair and the Scopes Trial are also pathetically uninformed.
There is no part of the COEs arsenal against creationism that has not been disarmed or
turned right back against the Darwinist stronghold. It would make a good term paper or debate topic for a reader
to respond to it point by point. He or she would find plenty of documentation right here in these
pages. While youre at it, try to find one example among the reputable groups promoting creationism
or intelligent design that wants only creationism taught in the schools. All want both sides to be heard,
as long as they are taught accurately and honestly so did Charlie himself. As always, it is the liberal
progressives, be they stem-cell advocates, abortion advocates, homosexual advocates, open-borders advocates,
global warming advocates, tolerance advocates, political correctness advocates and Darwinism advocates,
who want to shut off debate and have their views imposed by political declaration or court decision. They have a miserable track
record on free speech. Conservatives, especially creationists and intelligent design advocates, are asking for a
chance to be heard to debate the issues. Darwinism is a huge issue. It needs to be
discussed with all the evidence and logic and reason the best minds can muster.
Using this document as a prime example,
ask yourself if there is any group in the world you know of that routinely gets more
angry lambaste than creationists. In these days of political correctness, you can advocate and practice
any weird or evil belief you want and usually get away with it: any sexual deviation, pagan sun worship at
solstice festivals, parades of shame and flaunting of the most irrational or weird or downright stupid
idea or behavior, and people will either look the other way or actually cheer you on. Not even teachers
who have sex with their students or child pornographers are getting this much official condemnation.
But try to pass some evidence against Charlie using reason, logic and evidence, and the hate speech is
And is this not hate speech? The Council of Europe and the U.N. appear more
forgiving and tolerant of suicide bombers than they are of creationists. (Notice also how the intelligent
design movement has made absolutely no headway in trying to distinguish their views from creationism.
To the Darwin Party, there is no difference whatsoever, despite book after book after book explaining why
I.D. only is trying to answer the question if design can be inferred using scientific methods.)
To the radical Darwiniacs, any hint of trying to tarnish the reputation of Father Charlie is cause enough to
bring on the full wrath of the Western World.
But the official Western World is not the real Western World.
Despite their power and official status, the radical Darwinists are a minority.
Most people dont buy their line. A recent poll reported by
USA Today showed
that 2/3 of Americans still trust creation more than evolution, despite decades of strict indoctrination in the
Encouraging as that is, let history quickly remind us that fanatics with power affect the
world more than silent majorities. In each case of the worst 20th century genocidal totalitarian
regimes, whether Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or any of the others, the revolutionaries were usually more motivated, better
organized and more ruthless than the majority. Lenins followers called themselves
Bolsheviks (majority) when they were actually a minority. The Russian White Army,
despite valiant efforts, was no match for the radical revolutionaries with their lies, propaganda,
purges, assassinations, publicity stunts, chicanery and
subversive tactics. (For Mr. Lengagnes
education, we would like to point out that Mao was one of the
very few genocidal maniacs of the 20th century who did not study in France.)
A totalitarian regimes strategy for gaining and holding power
is to whip up the masses with hatred and fear
of a perceived threat. We see now the radical Darwinists
refusing to debate, refusing to reason, and refusing to listen; instead, they are trying to whip up the
nations of the world into a frenzy over a perceived threat from creationists.
If you are the target, you may have thought you were just trying to get
somebody to listen to reason and look at some evidence, but no: you are a bogeyman, and bogeymen
are fair game.
As we have said before, do not think for a moment that the evils of
radical Darwinism were exhausted by the atrocities of the 20th century. In the Information Age,
where your location can be tracked by GPS and there is no place to hide, where you could be implanted
with mind-altering devices and coerced with new scientific tortures, the potential for abuse could
make the Stalin era look like a picnic. If the COE really means what
it says that social Darwinism and communism and nazism were perverted deviations and wrong, let them (1) denounce these
regimes in the strongest of terms, (2) say never again will they allow such ideas to ever
gain sway, and (3) explain exactly why evolutionary psychology, morals and philosophy invariably lead to peace on
earth and gentle brotherhood. It cannot be done.
Poor Christians and Jews: the hatred comes from all sides. The radical Muslims hate them for
doubting Mohammed. The radical Darwinists hate them for doubting Darwin. Such irrational hatred boggles the
mind. That fact alone should cause someone
to ponder that something strange is going on. Could they be doing something right?
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would
love you as its own. (John 15:18-19).
He noted, They hated me without reason. If the radical Darwinists and Muslims had a reason
for their hatred, Christians should be the ones repenting and confessing their sins. Since they do not,
we can take comfort that Jesus said, shortly before receiving the most brutal treatment man could bring
on a person death on a cross I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world
So join the Christian Recipients of Hate Society. Youll be in good company.
Till that day, recall too that for years Jesus employed reason and evidence in public debate.
Those are also good footsteps to follow.
Next headline on:
Two assumptions about evolution one about the earliest multicellular organisms and one
about the rise of mammals have run into trouble.
For more on the mammal problem, see
Scientist. Also, National
Geographic put a positive spin on the problem, favoring Wibles fossil-centric view that the extinction of
dinosaurs paved the way for mammals.
- Eukarya sans Mechanista: In the absence of direct evidence,
science should proceed cautiously with conjecture, wisely advised Anthony Poole and David Penny
in Nature.1 They scorned the researchers who glibly invent fables about how
multicellular organisms arose when one engulfed another, saying, The notion that eukaryotes evolved via a merger
of cells from the other two domains archaea and bacteria overlooks known processes.
Maybe thats why they titled their Concepts essay, Engulfed by speculation.
Poole and Penny criticized leading theories about how eukaryotes arose, comparing them with absurd medieval speculations:
The conflicting hypotheses currently on offer show a curious disregard for mechanism, they asserted.
They agree that engulfing was part of the story they claim that engulfing is widespread among eukarya,
but unknown among archaea and bacteria but they criticize the way some evolutionists appeal to imagination:
It is the only explanation based on a host capable of engulfing the mitochondrial ancestor by known processes,
they demanded, rather than by mechanisms founded in unfettered imagination.
David Tyler on
Research Network emphasized the damage this article portends for Darwinism.
- Mammals sans Clocks: Yet again, molecules and fossils are at odds in the dating of a key event
in the history of life, wrote John Whitfield in Nature.2 The molecular
clock doesnt fit the fossil dates at all. The most complete phylogenetic tree built on the
fossil record puts mammals on the rise 65 million years ago, but the DNA studies suggest mammals
originated 15 to 35 million years earlier. Yawning gaps between molecular and palaeontological
approaches to the dating of evolutionary landmarks have appeared ever since molecular approaches based
on DNA sequences first became widely used about 15 years ago, Whitfield lamented.
John Wible added, I dont have a good answer as to why theres this discrepancy.
Researchers are trying to force two data sets together that dont want to get married.
The article also mentioned the large discrepancy between the two data sets from the much-earlier Cambrian explosion.
The latest controversy was spurred by Wibles discovery, published in the same issue of
Nature,3 of a Mongolian mammal he dated at 75 million years old. He not only found a rare Cretaceous
mammal but ventured a phylogenetic tree vastly at odds with molecular studies. He puts the crown group of
mammals late in the Cretaceous, nearer the time of the dinosaur extinction.
Cifelli and Gordon, in the same issue,4
noted how far-reaching this controversy extends: The conflicting results of these palaeontological and
molecular studies have profound implications for understanding the evolutionary history of mammals,
and for understanding the pace and nature of evolution generally. They noted Wibles
eye-popping and ground-breaking analysis, yet how at odds it is with DNA studies.
Paleontologists will have to fill in the gaps with more finds, they said, joking that the discovery of a
Cretaceous giraffe might send Wible back to the drawing board. Until then,
The molecules versus morphology debate remains both vexing and vibrant.
1Anthony Poole and David Penny, Eukaryote evolution: Engulfed by speculation,
447, 913 (21 June 2007), doi:10.1038/447913a.
2John Whitfield, Fossils challenge DNA in the dating game,
447, 894-895 (21 June 2007), doi:10.1038/447894a.
3Wible et al, Cretaceous eutherians and Laurasian origin for placental mammals near the K/T boundary,
47, 1003-1006 (21 June 2007), doi:10.1038/nature05854.
4Richard L. Cifelli and Cynthia L. Gordon, Evolutionary biology: Re-crowning mammals,
447, 918-920 (21 June 2007), doi:10.1038/447918a.
This is why you need Creation-Evolution Headlines to give you
the spiel from the original sources, instead of swallowing the pre-digested Darwin truth serum from
the popular outlets like National Geographic. Real evolutionists are pulling their hair out.
You rarely see it unless you read the journals, because once they go outside their inner sanctums,
they all put on their masks. These are like the masks seen in Amadeus, with a happy
face in front toward fellow evolutionists, and an angry face in back toward creationists.
Amazing Animals on Parade 06/20/2007
When their fights are exposed in all their fury, evolutionists like to say that
vexing, vibrant controversy is an essential part of science and so it should be. But when its all fight and no
conclusion for 148 years, except for undying faith in the overall fact of evolution, what are outsiders supposed
to think? For proof, wander through the Darwin chain links. They cant get
the fossils right (05/21/2004),
they cant get the genetics right
they cant get the dating right
(04/25/2007), they cant get the tree right
(02/01/2007), they cant get the morals right
they cant get the mind right (07/07/2006,
05/17/2007) and they cant get the philosophy right
They only thing they are good at is hating creationism (06/22/2007).
That debate, more than anything else, remains as vexing and vibrant as ever.
Next headline on:
You have to admire animals. They have tricks humans still need to learn, and possess
technologies that engineers are striving to imitate.
- Spiders: Dont let the black widow scare you; its only a picture
on Science Daily.
Scientists are amazed at how these animals produce one of the best dragline silks in spiderdom.
It is the strongest and toughest spider silk found so far. It can absorb enormous amounts of energy.
They are just now teasing out the genes that produce the proteins that produce this ideal material.
If we can learn to copy the secret formula, you may find it on your skin some day. It could
lead to lightweight super-strong body armor, components of medical devices and high-tech
athletic attire. That sounds both creepy and cool.
- Geckos: Speaking of spiders, spiderman outfits may soon become a reality.
A team has succeeded in manufacturing gecko tape better than the gecko foot itself
(for the physics of gecko foot adhesion, see 12/06/2006
Reporting in PNAS,1 a team at University of Ohio claims their nanotube-based gecko
tape is four times stronger than natural gecko feet (cf. 11/06/2006).
It can adhere to almost any surface and just
peel off for immediate reuse. The researchers envision applications in microelectronics,
robotics and space applications to which the imaginative reader can envision products for the shelves
of Toys R Us. They didnt mention if their tape is self-cleaning like a real
gecko foot (01/04/2005). Now, if they can get the dispenser
to eat flies and reproduce itself, theyll really be onto something.
- Starfish, Insects, : We mammals pride ourselves on our advanced systems, but the so-called
lower forms of life are not so low. A press release from the
Science Foundation remarked that the immune systems of invertebrates are anything but
simple. The article gushes about how many surprising advanced technologies they have to
resist disease. Their immune systems are even fine-tuned enough to prevent autoimmune reactions.
- Honeybees: Scientists used to think that the queen bee controlled the hive, like an autocrat,
but new findings at University of North Carolina challenge that view and make the situation more complicated.
Somehow, the experienced worker bees arrive at a consensus and signal one another when it is time to move
the hive, says a report on Science
Daily. The queen, in fact, is a passive recipient of signals. The workers tell her when
to lay eggs, when to stop, and when to fly.
Bees are the most-studied insects of all, but these
findings are contrary to the received wisdom about beehive social behavior. How does the hive
organize itself and make these important decisions without central leadership? Scientists are not sure,
but know it involves additional signals apart from the familiar waggle dance they use to point to food
sources. These signals include piping (vibrating their wings rapidly in contact) and vibration
signals (a kind of grab-and-shake move). However it works, it produces group cooperation with
remarkable efficiency. Maybe we should try these moves in the next business meeting.
If someone isnt cooperating, grab and shake.
- Electric fish: Loving couples who feel one anothers electricity should get a charge
out of this. Some electric fish in African waters court one another with electric duets,
reported a press release from Cornell
University. The males sing to their mates with specialized electric pulses.
It must be lovely in a fishy way; even, shall we say, stunning?
1Ge, Sethi, Ci, Ajayan, Dhinojwala, Carbon nanotube-based synthetic gecko tapes,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA, 10.1073/pnas.0703505104, published online before print June 19, 2007.
Mention of evolution is usually rare in such stories.
When brought up, its usually in the form of bald assertions of dogmatism (b.a.d.),
like, scientists showed that invertebrates have evolved elaborate ways to fight disease.
Such statements neither motivated the research nor explained it after the observations.
Just brush off such fluff and get to the amazing facts.
More amazing animals: dog does calculus, from 05/20/2003;
sea shell does nanoengineering, from 06/26/2003;
butterfly uses GPS, from 05/23/2003;
fruit fly ears produce shock and awe in scientists, from 05/07/2003.
Next headline on:
The Evolution of Pride: Psychology Trumps the Bible? 06/19/2007
The Bible got it wrong, announced a subtitle on
pride doesnt come before a fall
16:18). A proud look and haughty eyes may be the first
two of the Bibles seven deadly sins
6:16-19), but psychologist Jessica Tracy (U of British Columbia) begs to differ.
She says pride can be a good thing, as long as it is not excessive. It evolved as a
normal, healthy part of human expression.
Tracy, whose research is among the first to explore the different
facets of this emotion, tried to distinguish between healthy self-esteem and
arrogant hubris. And where did pride come from? What particularly fascinates
Tracy is how this emotion has evolved through time and continues to shape human social dynamics,
the article stated. For example, the darker side of pride may have evolved out
of the age-old human desire for status.
To test her theory, she interviewed natives in the rural African village of
Burkina Faso, and observed their responses to pictures of body expressions Westerners associate with pride.
They all immediately recognized a proud look.
We saw that recognition of the pride expression does cut across cultures,
she said, working with UC David psychologist Richard Robins.
An article about their research on
adds to the explanation of the source of pride:
Tracy and Robins argue that the primitive precursors of pride probably motivated our ancestors
to act in altruistic and communitarian ways, for the good of the tribe, and the physical
display of pride both reinforced such behavior and signaled to the group that this person was worthy
of respect. So individual pride, at least the good kind, contributed in important ways to the
survival of the community.
Tracy claims that the dark side of pride comes from trying to short-cut the good side.
When someone tries to gain respect without earning it, they turn pride askew: Social cheaters puffed
themselves up because deep down they did not have what it took to succeed in their world.
These articles qualify as dumb on several levels.
First, they quibble about definitions. Even the Bible distinguishes between
a feeling of confidence, joy or hope that is warranted (such as confidence in Gods promises) and
selfish arrogance. So no, the Bible did not get it wrong. Tracy and Robins acknowledge that
pride is not always good. Hubris and selfish arrogance can be harmful.
Why Your Eyes Jitter 06/18/2007
This leads to the second flaw: she stole worldview presuppositions from Christians to make value judgments.
Evolutionary theory cannot say that anything is beneficial (even survival), or that anything is dark
or puffed up or hubristic, because she has no standard by which to judge such
things. Evolution is what evolution does. There is no basis on which she could claim that
a prideful tribe that crushes and decimates a group of peaceful neighbors is doing a bad thing.
Her inability to restrain value judgments is a tip-off that her God-given conscience is speaking.
To be consistent, she can only say that pride is. There exists a set of biochemical
processes, characterized by people who puff out their chests and force their way on others, that we call by
a group of five letters, p-r-i-d-e, a word totally devoid of moral content. Christians, by contrast
do have such a standard: the character of God and His commandments. We forbid Tracy to plagiarize
the Bible. Its unconscionable that she should do so, then turn around and say her source got it wrong.
Last, Tracys work contributes nothing. As so often is the case
in evolutionary literature, her explanation is mere storytelling. She invented a Star Wars myth about alleged
primitive people, some of whom were tempted to the Dark Side of Pride. The tribespeople in Africa she interviewed
are guess what? 21st century moderns. They exist in the present, not tens of thousands
of years ago in an evolutionary galaxy far, far away. To associate them with primitives is de facto racism.
The villagers of Burkina Faso, who are every bit as modernly human as the professors at the university,
should be incensed.
Could Tracy and Robins possibly know what primitive humans
(even if there were such beings) were doing when some genetic mutation invented pride? Does her model
actually contribute anything
to understanding of human character? Is it not an imaginary fable? Does it not work to
rationalize one of the deepest character flaws in the human soul, the cause of so much evil in the world?
Evolutionary psychology is a deceptive, self-refuting, phony religion set in opposition to the Bible.
In their vain attempts to psychologize and evolutionize pride (and everything else), its practitioners exhibit the
worst kind of hubris themselves: an appearance of scientific knowledge with no foundation. The cultists
cannot make bricks for their temples. They rely on thieving from those who have the raw materials
and the means of production.
Instead of wasting government money on
psychological fluff that does no one any good, Tracy needs to quit her cult and go get a real job.
Everything she needs to know about pride was written in the Word of God from the beginning.
Someone take this poor, confused lady by the hand and invite her to church preferably, one of
the Christian mission churches in
the village. Wouldnt that be an appropriate education in humility.
Next headline on:
Bible and Theology
Politics and Ethics
The coachs advice Keep your eye on the ball is impossible, because
your eyes are constantly in motion with tiny jerks called fixational eye movements or saccades. Why do the
eyes move all the time? Some scientists at Boston University decided to find out.
Reporting in Nature,1 they found that saccades help you discriminate
fine details in the visual field. Rucci et al said,
Our eyes are constantly in motion. Even during visual fixation, small eye movements
continually jitter the location of gaze. It is known that visual percepts tend to fade
when retinal image motion is eliminated in the laboratory. However, it has long been
debated whether, during natural viewing, fixational eye movements have functions in
addition to preventing the visual scene from fading. In this study, we analysed the influence
in humans of fixational eye movements on the discrimination of gratings masked by noise that
has a power spectrum similar to that of natural images. Using a new method of retinal
image stabilization, we selectively eliminated the motion of the retinal image that
normally occurs during the intersaccadic intervals of visual fixation. Here we show that
fixational eye movements improve discrimination of high spatial frequency stimuli, but not
of low spatial frequency stimuli. This improvement originates from the temporal modulations
introduced by fixational eye movements in the visual input to the retina, which emphasize the
high spatial frequency harmonics of the stimulus. In a natural visual world dominated
by low spatial frequencies, fixational eye movements appear to constitute an effective sampling
strategy by which the visual system enhances the processing of spatial detail.
The brain compensates for these movements so that we are not aware of them (03/29/2002,
This was known, but the reason for the saccades was only suggestive till now. Using new methods, the
Boston University team found that
subjects with the stabilized vision lost more than 16% of their ability to discriminate fine details
in the high-frequency gratings, but showed no change with low-frequency gratings. This result was
Thus, fixational eye movements improved discrimination of the orientation of a high-frequency grating
masked by low-frequency noise but did not help with a low-frequency grating masked by high-frequency noise.
This result is surprising because it contradicts traditional views of the influence of fixational eye
movements on vision. Indeed, the pronounced reduction in contrast sensitivity at low spatial
frequencies measured by previous experiments with prolonged retinal stabilization predicts a more
significant drop in performance with low-frequency than with high-frequency gratings.
Nevertheless, their experiments were robust: the saccades helped most in distinguishing fine detail.
The researchers found, furthermore, that the eye movement also helped distinguish
detail in very low contrast scenes.
For a controlled experiment, they kept one axis stable and the other in natural motion.
As expected, image discrimination was improved on the moving axis.
These results are consistent with the informational content of the modulations of luminance
introduced by fixational eye movements. These modulations only convey information about the pattern
of noise during motion parallel to the grating, but provide maximal information about the grating
when motion occurs on the axis orthogonal to the grating.
The authors provided some differential equations that described how the motions of
the eye provide more information from the visual field. In conclusion, they said:
Our results show that vision is impaired at high spatial frequencies in the absence of fixational
eye movements. This finding is consistent with the spatial frequency dependence of the temporal
modulations resulting from fixational eye movements. Neurons in the early visual system are
sensitive to these input modulations. As with the stimuli of experiment one, natural
visual environments possess substantial power at low spatial frequencies. Our results indicate that
sampling visual information by means of a jittering fixation is an effective strategy for analysing
natural scenes, facilitating the processing of spatial detail in the face of otherwise overwhelming
As indicated, they figured that there must be a function for the phenomenon.
This approach motivated them to experiment and find the answer. It was not possible
to determine this function with earlier technologies, they said.
weighed in on this story, commenting that these findings mark an important step toward settling a
50-year-old controversy. The article said we still have known surprisingly little about
saccades. This new work shows that the eyes jitters help the brain pick out fine details,
the kind involved in locating a single tree in a forest or a berry in a bush. This ability
is shared with other mammals: Most animals with sharp central vision, such as humans, monkeys, and
cats, make microscopic eye adjustments when they fix their gaze. Saccades have also
been observed in the eyes of birds.2
1Rucci, Iovin, Poletti and Santini, Miniature eye movements enhance fine spatial detail,
447, 852-855 (14 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05866.
Journal of Neuroscience where researchers
described saccades in the eyes of two species of predatory birds possessing binocular vision. The authors
did not comment on whether this represents a case of convergent evolution.
There was no mention of evolution in this paper.
We do not know their feelings about evolution, but these authors have demonstrated in deed
that assuming design leads to productive science.
They saw a phenomenon; they assumed there was a reason for it. Now we know more about the eye
than we did: and its a wonderful thing. There is more information and functional design
behind these strange eye movements than we imagined.
How to get metamorphic rocks in 10 years not millions (from 06/30/2005).
Their results make sense in hindsight, too (if youll pardon the expression).
Continuous eye motion allows the neurons and the brain to take numerous
snapshots from slightly different angles, so as to glean the maximum amount of information from the
visual field. For widely spaced details, this does not add much information, but it adds a lot in low
contrast and high-detail situations. Think about that the next time you are reading fine print
in low light, like the small black lettering on black plastic that manufacturers are fond of
embossing on the backs of TV sets to frustrate consumers when they need to plug in the cable in dim light.
Your eyes are subconsciously helping you out. This could have been vital for our primitive ancestors.
How could they have plugged in the cable before the flashlight was invented?
Compare this finding with the one about birds that bobble their heads when they walk
(04/12/2004). When you see something in nature you dont
understand, try the approach that there must be a reason for it. Science is supposed to be an
organized method for finding out the reasons for things. Now, ask yourself the meta-question:
what is the reason for reason?
Next headline on:
More Reasons to Enjoy Creation Outdoors 06/17/2007
Evidence keeps mounting that exercise is good for almost every body. It can prevent and
alleviate many ailments. But isnt that only natural?
The hazards of inactivity are worrisome, and the benefits of exercise are manifold.
Exercise improves the organs, the mind, the attitude, the longevity, and even social
and spiritual health. The body was made for activity. As much as you can,
give it what it needs. Benefits will begin almost immediately no matter how out of
shape you have become. Schedule time for it, and start today.
- Low back pain: Laziness increases the risk of back pain,
on work from Australia. Staying in bed shrinks muscles needed to support the back.
So does prolonged inactivity at a desk job. Conclusion? If you sit around too
much long-term, such as a desk job with no sport in your spare time, the muscles can slowly
change in a bad way, giving you a bigger risk of hurting your back. Sporting
suggestion: go take a hike.
- Diabetes: Exercise does twice as much good as diet and medicine for diabetics,
says a report from U
of Missouri-Columbia. A change of lifestyle to include exercise brings strong
benefits: In studies that focused on exercise only, blood glucose improved twice as much
as in studies that focused on exercise, diet and medication adherence.
See also Science Daily.
- High blood pressure: Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and
inactivity: theyre not just your fathers problems any more, said a
press release from University
of new Hampshire. College students had their diets and lifestyle habits measured and found
that they were worse off than they thought. Many admitted they get less than 30 minutes of activity a
day. Some students were shocked to find out how unfit they were,
while researchers warned that if they continue on this trajectory, are going to be much more
of a health burden at age 50 than their parents are.
- Thirst and Water Intoxication: Now that you have decided to exercise more,
you need to hydrate the body properly. Remember when they told us to drink more
water? Too much can be as bad as too little. Instead, advises
Georgetown Medical Center,
let thirst be your guide.
- Better Little than None: Now, some good news.
reported dramatic health benefits after just one exercise session, even for diabetics
and the obese. Doctors at University of Michigan found that the improved metabolism
from exercise can forestall a primary symptom of type 2 diabetes.
The epidemic of obesity these days is a crying shame.
A walk around any shopping mall or public place reveals a high percentage of people who are
overweight some morbidly so. These people (except for the very few who cannot help
it), should realize that they are advertising their irresponsibility, like someone walking around
with a sandwich board reading, I lack self control. (This is NOT to say that
skinniness is a virtue it can often be just as unhealthy and dangerous.) We all have a normal weight
for our body type that we should strive to maintain.
Saturns Moons Are Bustin Out All Over 06/16/2007
If you find yourself weighing more than you should (lets face it, thats a lot of us),
dont beat yourself up and get depressed about it, and dont spend money on fad
diets, books and programs. Just make some adjustments to your lifestyle habits little
by little. Remember two things: (1) you need to pour fewer calories down the gullet, and
(2) you need to burn more calories through exercise. Build these simple reminders
into your daily routine as a way of life, and give it time to work.
Calories and diet: You can still eat things
you enjoy, but try these tips. Eat smaller portions. Eat slower; savor each bite. Mom, bless her
heart, was wrong: you dont have to finish your plate. Eat what you need of the
burger or fries and throw the rest out. Dont do what the fast-food joints tempt, either:
dont supersize; downsize. Get the double whopper instead of the Texas triple, or the
whopper junior instead of the regular. Put less salt and sauce on the meat. Put less
butter on the potato, less salad dressing on the salad. Never gorge yourself at a meal. Balance out the
things you enjoy with healthy fruits, vegetables and lean meats. In time, you will learn to
like the healthy stuff, and the rich food will begin to seem unnatural. Gradual lifestyle changes
will be more likely to stick. A registered dietician should be consulted for hard cases.
the more effective of the two factors, because it not only burns the calories, it helps your body handle
the energy budget more efficiently, and is self-reinforcing: the more you exercise, the
better you feel, and the more you want to exercise. Throughout history some very strong and
fit individuals have gotten by with a far less optimum diet than we have available today, because
they lived active, vigorous lives; think of soldiers from ancient times who performed mighty
feats of strength and endurance. A good diet, therefore, is not enough alone, and exercise
can compensate for some dietary deficiencies.
Like a savings
account, the accrued interest of a regular exercise program will grow. Think of it as an investment. We all
have plenty of excuses too busy, too tired, too overcommitted but exercise
will give you more strength and joy for all your other work, and will allow you to get more
done in less time and a longer life to achieve more. In other words, you cant afford
not to exercise.
Even the infirm or disabled can often do something.
Under a doctors supervision,
squeeze a ball, bend your forearms with small weights, do deep breathing and abdominal isostatic
exercises, bicycle your legs in bed, but
try to take your body to a higher level than it is right now. Think you have problems?
Look at Nick Vujicic, born without arms and legs,
who swims and dresses himself and operates his own business, typing with his one working toe
(watch the amazing video clip on the site). Look what
did after losing his legs in Vietnam. Take whatever faculties you have left and maximize them.
If your body isnt working, use your mind. (Actually, as long as you are alive, there are far
more body parts that are working just fine than are disabled like trillions of cells.)
The able-bodied commuter
with a desk job has many options. Park and walk farther. Take stairs instead of the elevator.
Stretch at the desk. Take breaks to walk around. Get out of the cubicle and go outside once in awhile.
Light is sweet, and it pleases the eye to see the sun, said an otherwise-cynical
11:7). If you still think you dont have time, try multitasking. Listen to sermons,
books on tape or training programs in your MP3 player while you walk.
For those in the southern California area, a new book by Steve Sears can motivate
you to get the exercise you need without the boredom of treadmills and gyms.
God, Growth and Great Adventure
tells you where to go, what to take, how to prepare, and what to see on dozens of great
hikes in the mountains and deserts of California. With this book (or one like it for
your locale) and a Bible in hand,
get out and enjoy the world God made it will do your heart, soul and spirit a
world of good. Check our photo gallery for more inspiration.
What does all this have to do with creation and evolution?
Read this, point 1, and
Next headline on:
Add Tethys and Dione to the party blowers around Saturn.
found that these two moons are active, like Enceladus and Titan, though on a lesser scale.
Cassini scientists discovered the effects of outbound particles from these moons by studying
the plasma fields with the Cassini plasma spectrometer (CAPS) instrument. The results
suggest surface activity, possibly even volcanic, on the two icy bodies that lie between
Enceladus and Rhea.
The story, based on a paper in Nature,1 was picked up by
1Burch et al, Tethys and Dione as sources of outward-flowing plasma in Saturns magnetosphere,
447, 833-835 (14 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05906.
This compounds the mystery of why these icy moons,
so distant from the sun (and assumed to be so very, very old), should be active today
when we can observe them up close. Cassini
has been worth every penny just to see the surprised look on the scientists faces.
Plants International Travel Upsets Evolutionary Idea 06/16/2007
Stay tuned for the super-closeup flyby of Iapetus
01/07/2005) on September 10.
More wonders are sure to be in the wings of the rings.
Next headline on:
They may be rooted in soil, but plants really get around. Some of them make it around
the world. One example has upset a long-believed evolutionary idea.
First of all, plants have a social life.
Geographic published a story about how plants socialize and communicate.
Plants have family values, too, it seems, with new research suggesting they can
recognize close relatives in order to work together.
Sometimes, another National
Geographic article explained, they decide to go on vacation. Using up their
frequent flora miles, they can take to the winds and set down roots in
distant lands. Long distance travel by plants was assumed to be rare and random,
but genetic studies of nine arctic species indicated they had traveled up to 1000 km
from their starting place.
One such international travel escapade amounts to a conspiracy.
Kapok plants crossed an ocean to undermine Darwin, according to a story in
The trail of intrigue led from South America to Africa: the kapok tree now is upsetting
an idea that biologists have clung to for decades: the notion that African and South
American rainforests are similar because the continents were connected 96 million
years ago. To pull off this scheme, the kapok seeds found ways to cross the ocean.
Another seed that enjoys ocean cruises is the mangrove.
The Moody film Journey of Life details how the long seed pods of this plant glide
like submarines across the salty sea. Upon reaching shallow water, one end becomes
waterlogged and sinks, planting the pod upright in the sandy soil, ready to start a new
mangrove forest. The coconut is another world cruiser.
Could Germ Toxicity Be an Environmental Effect? 06/15/2007
We should not feel sorry for plants, stuck as they are in one place. They
move and socialize and travel more
than we imagine. Would that science reporters would appreciate the design in plants
instead of spinning their reports around the latest scare fads, like global warming.
Mars and Venus have global warming but nothing like kapok trees, mangroves and coconuts.
Next headline on:
Listeria becomes nasty when starved of oxygen,
Limiting oxygen produces bacteria up to 100 times more invasive than similar bacteria grown
with ample oxygen supplies.
Could this imply that a world with different atmospheric
or soil conditions could have been less prone to disease? Could the bacteria we fear
most have been placid or even beneficial in such an environment?
Genome Complexity Unveiled: No Junk, Only Function 06/15/2007
One instance doesnt make
the case, but this surprising finding is food for thought. Pasteurize before
Next headline on:
Any remaining doubts that the idea of junk DNA has itself been junked should
vanish under the latest findings about genome complexity. A number of recent news stories
have revealed astonishing levels of regulation and organization in the non-coding regions of DNA.
It turns out that genes are not the only interesting things in the code. A wealth of functions
were uncovered in the non-coding regions formerly assumed to be useless.
Several other Intelligent Design commentators have given non-Darwinian interpretations of these findings. See
Descent for examples.
- Function Junk-tion: Nature1 published results from a consortium named
ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements). Its pilot phase consisted of 35 groups examining 30mb
of the human genome (about 1%) in unprecedented detail.
See EurekAlert for a
summary of the consortiums findings.
Team members found, first of all, that most of
the junk sections are pervasively transcribed despite lacking genes.
Surprisingly, some distant portions are linked into one transcript. Second, they found a lot
of overlap in the transcribed areas; some non-gene transcripts overlap those of genes.
Third, the structure of chromatin (protein around which
DNA is wrapped) has been shown to interact with the ways DNA is transcribed and regulated.
Finally, only a few genes appear constrained by natural selection; many others vary widely between mammals.
results are starting to revolutionize our picture of the functional landscape of the human genome,
the paper said. They will undoubtedly reverberate through speculations about genome evolution as well.
For instance, the presence of wide variation in the non-coding transcripts between mammals suggested to the authors that
a vast pool of neutral segments (of no immediate benefit to the organism) exists. This pool may serve as
a warehouse for natural selection, they speculated, potentially acting as the source
of lineage-specific elements and functionally conserved but non-orthologous elements between species.
- Comments One: This interpretation, however, is disputed by others, Erika Check reported in a
separate news article summarizing
the results.2. Her analysis agrees with the sense of wonder over all the new-found complexity.
She mentioned one geneticist who feels we have been vastly underestimating how much of the genome is functional.
- Comments Two:
And thats with just 1% of it analyzed in this detail. John Greally, in another news report in the same
issue,3, reminded his readers: So although the glimpse we are provided by the ENCODE consortium
into the ordered complexity of 1% of the human genome is tantalizing, the insights only confirm the challenges
that lie ahead. He expressed the reversal in attitudes about these Cinderellas of the genome:
We should have guessed that this was merely prima-donna behaviour on the part of narcissist genes
when the sequencing of the human genome revealed that they comprise only a small percentage of the DNA. And
our confidence should have been shaken when some sequences located far from any genes were found to
be strikingly conserved, indicating that they have some important function. Now, on page 799 of this
issue,1 the ENCODE Project Consortium shows through the analysis of 1% of the human genome that the
humble, unpretentious non-gene sequences have essential regulatory roles (Fig. 1).
We are increasingly being forced to pay attention to our non-gene DNA sequences.
- Comments Three: Elizabeth Pennisi also commented on ENCODEs findings in Science.4
She said its forcing us to rethink what it means to be a gene. If genes only make up 2% of the genome,
why is 80% of the DNA expressed? This is upsetting our gene-centric perspective. She quoted Francis
Collins of the Human Genome Project, who appeared optimistic that were beginning to understand the ground
rules by which the genome functions. That implies we are not far beyond square one. He said
the gene concept is not going out of fashion; Its just that we have to be more thoughtful about it.
- Drosophila phenomena: An article from
Berkeley Lab indicated
that fruit fly heterochromatin (large regions of chromosomes devoid of genes) is far from junk
as earlier thought. Not so long ago, the difficult-to-sequence, highly repetitive, gene-poor
DNA found in regions of chromosomes known as heterochromatin was called junk. Like dark matter
in the universe, the true nature of heterochromatin was unknown. It appears now that heterochromatin
is essential for numerous functions, such as neutralizing transposons. Some of it also codes for
genes that were missed because they are separated by large, repetitive introns. These and other
functions were uncovered when the team decided to question the junk DNA paradigm:
We set out to see if there was any information in that junk, one team member said.
- Genetic Clockwork: Of all things, a clock mechanism has been discovered for regulating
genes. Dr. Bert OMalley at Baylor College of Medicine
found that 25,000 genes follow a clock controlled by master switches that turn gene expression
on and off. Ubiquitin molecules are added each time a gene is expressed. When the
number reaches five, the protein transcribed is destroyed. This prevents too much of a good thing.
Dave Scot wrote about this from an I.D. perspective on
Descent. He likened the mechanism to a shift register in digital electronic devices.
- Teeming with Significant Life: Another article appeared on
Science Daily about the
ENCODE results. It says that the human genetic deserts, once thought to be junk regions without
function, are teeming with significant life. Professor Alexandre Reymond said,
Our work has shown that the human genome is far more complex than anyone could have imagined,
even ten years ago. Understanding these complexities is essential to the development of effective
and safe genetic medicine in the future.
1The ENCODE Project Consortium, Identification and analysis of functional elements in
1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project,
447, 799-816 (14 June 2007); doi:10.1038/nature05874.
2Erika Check, Genome project turns up evolutionary surprises,
447, 760-761 (14 June 2007); doi:10.1038/447760a.
3John M. Greally, Genomics: Encyclopaedia of humble DNA,
447, 782-783 (14 June 2007); doi:10.1038/447782a.
4Elizabeth Pennisi, DNA Study Forces Rethink of What It Means to Be a Gene,
15 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5831, pp. 1556-1557, DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5831.1556.
Let us all, therefore, with solemnity and humility,
lay to rest the dead theory of junk DNA. We should have guessed, Greally said.
Indeed. If they had just listened to creationists and intelligent design people saying
for years that it isnt junk, that there must be a reason for it, then the Darwinists
wouldnt have held back good science for so long. Now it would be honorable if
they would give credit to the ones who were headed in the right direction from the beginning.
The Evolution of Vomit 06/14/2007
Next headline on:
Upchucking could have an adaptive value in evolution, wrote Dan Jones in
Nature1 in a news feature about moral psychology. Why are we
disgusted at certain things, like maggots and rotting food? Evolution, he asserted
without a burp, throwing in disgusting things like OPM and OPI (other peoples morals
and other peoples ideologies)
Evolution suggests that the human moral faculty the psychological systems that
make judgements about right and wrong, whats permissible and what isnt was
cobbled together from pre-existing brain systems over millions of years of biological and
cultural evolution. Along the way, it latched onto disgust as a useful tool.
The experimental data point to the possibility that our disgust system might have
been adapted by evolution to allow us to reject or disapprove of abstract concepts
such as ideologies and political views that are deeply influenced by culture,
as well social groups associated with disgusting concepts, says [Jorge] Moll
[a Brazilian cognitive neuroscientist].
Jones also referred to the work of Jonathan Haidt (05/22/2007)
and others who attributed all emotions, morals and values to cultural evolution of our apelike
ancestors. His piece was copiously illustrated with images of people expressing disgust,
and even one of a man vomiting. The first image was from Darwins post-Origin book,
On the Expression of Emotion in Men and Animals (cf. 11/22/2005
commentary), in which Darwin tried to show evolutionary roots of facial expressions with photographs
of people crying, laughing, looking afraid and showing disgust.
1Dan Jones, Moral psychology: The depths of disgust,
447, 768-771 (14 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/447768a.
Oh barf, we already awarded Stupid Evolution Quote of the
Week to Leslie Mullen (06/11/2007). Nothing could be more disgusting
than to see an evolutionist evolutionizing disgust. Why? Because it is
self-refuting. Jones claimed (with the support
of other evolutionists) that our value judgments, morals and ideologies are evolutionary
artifacts of natural and social evolution. If so, they have no basis in truth, and
truth itself becomes an evolutionary artifact.
Travel Tip: Want to have a fantastic educational vacation next year, and learn a great deal
about creation and the flood while youre enjoying a wonder of the world?
Click here for a tempting look.
Yet throughout the article, Jones hinted that
propaganda (e.g., Hitler comparing Jews to rats to co-opt the disgust response), racial
prejudice, sexual stereotyping, religious persecution, and aversion to stem cell research are not good things.
By what standard could he make such judgments? According to his own presuppositions,
his disgust response is an evolutionary artifact just as much as Hitlers was about
Jews. Moral relativism is inescapable in this view (re-read
on why this is self-refuting).
This article also gets the Dumb award for its Tinker Bell Theology
Our moral sense was cobbled together from pre-existing brain systems over millions of years of
biological and cultural evolution, he says (maybe this can win Stupid Evolution Quote of
Next Week). With one swoop, he just tossed out the Bible, Shakespeare and every great
work on moral philosophy. We dont need to read and think deeply about moral
issues any more, use logical arguments about the nature of right and wrong, or good or evil, because Charlies
little fairy renders all such reasonings obsolete. Tinker Bell zapped some brain cells with mutations, such that
old parts came together in new ways for natural selection to work on. Presto: morality.
The arrogance of these people. Disgusting. Its enough to make you want to up Chuck.
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
Huge Forest Fossilized Suddenly 06/14/2007
Nature1 had some interesting comments about the fossil forest found in a coal
mine a few months ago (see 04/23/2007).
Kirk Johnson of the Denver Museum of Natural History said that a vast area (over 3.8 square miles)
must have been inundated quickly for this fossil graveyard to be preserved.
Rapid burial can result from various mechanisms. In the case of the Illinois forest, which grew in a
coastal mire, local tectonic subsidence dropped the forest floor to sea level quickly enough for the
plants to be preserved in place. The rate of this type of subsidence is difficult to measure, but
DiMichele et al. argue that it must have occurred within two months to provide the quality of
preservation seen in the mine.
Rapid burial is required, because Dispersed plant parts are rapidly recycled by soil organisms and
reduced to their organic constituents within months, he said. Well-preserved palaeobotanical
remains are therefore direct evidence of rapid burial below the level of destructive processes occurring in soils.
What mechanism could suddenly plunge 3.8 square miles of forest under the sea? Johnson proposed
that an earthquake did it: local tectonic subsidence dropped the forest floor to sea level quickly enough
for the plants to be preserved in place.
Other known fossil forests were buried by volcanic ash. In those cases, radiometric dating can
be used, he said. The rest of the article dealt with attempts by geochronologists and plant biologists
to calibrate the geologic column. Johnson claimed it is becoming possible to pinpoint rapid events within
their geological period. In that context, he said, in conclusion: Just because something happened a long time ago
does not mean it took a long time to happen.
A paper on the Pennsylvanian-era fossil forest (located in Illinois) was published in the
May issue of Geology.2 See also two popular news reports replicated with a picture
here, and reports on
and BBC News.
1Kirk R. Johnson, Paleobotany: Forests frozen in time,
447, 786-787 (14 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/447786a.
2DiMichele et al, Ecological gradients within a Pennsylvanian mire forest,
May 2007, pp. 415–418, DOI: 10.1130/G23472A.1.
Two months; thats
about right. Can any uniformitarian
point to a place on earth where nearly 4 square miles of forest sunk intact into an ocean in two months
or less? If not, lets try a new maxim: The past is the key to the present.
Its interesting that any kind of exotic catastrophe is OK to geologists and evolutionary paleontologists these days
as long it was not a global flood. The worldwide instance of bizarre fossil graveyards (e.g.,
02/02/2004) should re-open old questions long abandoned by the
disciples of Lawyer Lyell (see 05/22/2003).
Imaginary Dinosaur Feathers Found Again! 06/13/2007
This amazing fossilized forest provides an opportunity for creationists to do independent research.
Perhaps the fossil bed is even larger than 3.8 square miles. Someone should try to access
the raw data, or even observe the site directly, to learn more about an intact ecology that was
rapidly submerged, and to study the means of inundation. Access to uncontaminated samples to look for
evidence of remnant carbon-14 would also be interesting. Thats the kind of evidence an
evolutionary geologist would not even pursue because he or she already knows the forest
is 300 million years old and all carbon-14 would have long ago decayed. Lets ask some
Next headline on:
Last year, we reported that imaginary feathers had been found on a dinosaur fossil (see
Now, more imaginary feathers have turned up. This turkey was big, too: the
dinosaur plumed in the imaginary feathers stood almost 12 feet tall. Everyones
talking about it: Fox News,
MSNBC News and
among others. National
Geographic called it birdlike and most of the other articles are fluttering
with bird references. But again, were confused: where are the feathers?
Despite the artists conception of the creature abundantly outfitted
with colorful arm plumage, all the articles admit that no feathers were found on the bones of
this new giant, Gigantoraptor elrianensis. Instead, they say that the
creature likely had feathers. They are also calling attention to the
beak-like mouth and slender legs of the animal as evidence for ancestry to birds.
National Geographic said it resembled a mammoth-sized ostrich.
said that, though it is thought to have had feathers, There are no clear signs as to
whether it was feathered. The claim is based solely on its supposed affinity with
other dinosaurs known to have been feathered (but cf.
a problem with the story, however. This species, comparable in height to T. rex, is 35 times taller
and 300 times heavier than Caudipteryx, a fossil that had distinct feather impressions.
That puts the Gigantoraptors existence at odds with prevailing theories that
dinosaurs became smaller as they evolved into birds and that bigger dinosaurs had less
birdlike characteristics, the AP report stated.
Tracing the ancestry of
birds from dinosaurs just got more complicated than we imagined. So said
Xu Xing, co-author of a paper that announced the find in Nature.1
It was an unexpected finding, Xu said, because paleontologists had expected
oviraptors to get smaller and more birdlike over time.
Mark Norell, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, said Its one of the
last groups of dinosaurs that we would expect to be that big.
What did the original paper in Nature say? It argued that
Caudipteryx and Protarcheopteryx (two small, feathered dinosaurs) are in the family tree
of the giant raptor. But the new fossil complicates the picture of bird evolution,
they admitted in the final discussion:
Gigantoraptor is an exception to some general patterns seen during the gigantism of non-avian
theropods. Contrary to the evolutionary trend of size decrease in coelurosaurian evolution, which
plays a key part in the origin of birds, most non-avian coelurosaurian subgroups display a trend of
size increase and their large-sized members tend to reverse to more primitive conditions in many bird-like
characters. The discovery of Gigantoraptor complicates this pattern, however.
Although much larger than its close relatives, Gigantoraptor has proportionally the longest forelimb
among oviraptorosaurs, a manus resembling basal eumaniraptorans, bird-like hind limbs, and many other
advanced features. These features are close to the conditions in birds but absent in other smaller
oviraptorosaurs, indicating an unusual pattern for the Oviraptorosauria among the non-avian
The feathers on Gigantoraptor, meanwhile, remained imaginary. They said the animal
might have at least retained arm feathers or their homologues from its ancestors,
if not other types of feathers, given that the primary function of arm feathers is not to
insulate the individual and their development is probably not related to size.
But their reference to the two feathered critters was dated 1998. In 2000, Science News
listed among its biggest stories of the year the possibility that Caudipteryx was a
flightless bird, not a dinosaur.
These problems, however, are no reason not to celebrate the discovery of imaginary
feathers. Fox News and
MSNBC both published an AP story about an
exhibit on feathered dinosaurs beginning to make the rounds of American museums, starting in
Miami. It tells the story of bird evolution, chirped a believer.
Answers in Genesis,
however, voiced a raucous squawk on the whole idea. (See also the
10/12/2005 critiques that birds evolved from dinosaurs.)
1Xing Xu et al, A gigantic bird-like dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of China,
447, 844-847 (14 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05849.
This is more fodder to store up for the day when the whole
Darwinian house of cards collapses. We will need to show students of the future how
strong beliefs blinded the eyes of certain scientists and made them imagine a vain thing
(see 01/17/2007 commentary).
Why Do Some Fruit Bats Have Color Vision? 06/12/2007
For a different take on what happened to birds and dinosaurs, consider this other news item.
Magazine pondered why so many dinosaur fossils, including all specimens of Archaeopteryx,
show the creatures had died with heads tilted backward,
apparently gasping in agony. Kevin Padian and Cynthia Fox are not satisfied with the usual
explanation that the bones came into this position drifting in water before burial.
Padian also noted many of these specimens show evidence of rapid burial because they are
Though Padian and Faux favor the alternative idea that some poison or environmental
factor choked the animals, another
possibility fits the evidence perfectly well.
Next headline on:
One would think bats dont need color, since most fly at night. Thats what
scientists thought, reported
Planck Institute, until color-vision cones were found in some species. Some species have two cone
types, giving them bichromatic vision, and some have only one, making them effectively color blind.
Bats come in two orders: big and small. We usually think of the small microbats
that live in caves and use echolocation, but the megabats, or flying foxes, do not use sonar. They
fly at twilight or during the day. Both orders are amply supplied with the light-sensitive rods.
The scientists found that some megabats have green and blue cones, but three species have
only green cones. They surmised that these species, roosting in darker quarters of caves and trees
and flying only in twilight, lost the use of their blue cones. One commented,
A loss of blue cones is a rare event in evolution, it has been found in only a few mammals.
Otherwise, the retinas of bats are normal for mammals, not an evolutionary quirk, another commented.
This story was also reported in Science
Loss of function is not evolution. Natural selection is able to remove useless organs,
but no one has observed it evolve a new organ. That would require the acquisition
of new genetic instructions. Think of the difficulty of adding a new blue cone, for instance,
where one did not exist before. Having all the parts of a blue cone come together by chance
would be just the first improbability. The brain would have to understand the signal, and
the bat would have to know how to differentiate and use the new color. Fruit bats are not
blind as a bat, the title said but some evolutionists are.
Ma Lizards Dress Their Young 06/12/2007
Next headline on:
Leapin lizards: the side-blotched lizards of the American southwest are able to
dress their kids in the latest scale fashions. A press release from
UC Santa Cruz shows
that hormones from mom can dramatically affect the pattern and coloration of offspring.
The scientists observing this phenomenon think it has something to do with matching their
looks to the need of the moment: aggression, camouflage, or social acceptance with siblings.
Apparently these lizards know how to dress for success.
If the parents actually have this kind of control over the outward looks of the young,
then developmental factors may have more to do with variation than mutation and natural
selection. Whats Darwin got to do with it? Very little, apparently.
The researchers said nothing about it, even though one was listed as an evolutionary
biologist. If these lizards can vary their appearance substantially in one
generation, they should have evolved into birds by now. But no one is claiming they have
been anything other than side-blotched lizards since antiquity.
Invent Animals: Just Add Phosphorus 06/11/2007
Next headline on:
Phosphate does a body good, announced Leslie Mullen in an
article for Astrobiology
Magazine, a NASA website. So good, in fact, it builds whole new body plans.
Her story suggests that the Cambrian explosion was due to a rise in phosphate in the
In the Cambrian explosion, virtually all the animal phyla appeared in the geological blink
of an eye. Without blinking her eye, Mullen asked, The rock record shows that phosphorus,
once scarce, became abundant around the same time as the Cambrian explosion. Could phosphorus be the
key to unlocking the mystery behind the Ediacaran extinction and the sudden emergence of animal life on Earth?
The invention of complex body plans found in Cambrian fossils was attributed to an
unknown process named emergence:
Mullens article focused on the opinion of Jim Elser (Arizona State), who investigated Cambrian rocks for their
phosphate content. But she was careful to air the views of a skeptic: Bruce Runnegar of UCLA.
He thinks the secret ingredient was oxygen. I would put more money on oxygen rather than phosphate
as an intrinsic trigger of the Cambrian explosion, he said Runnegar. Phosphate may have been a
follower rather than a leader.
- Was the extinction of one kind of life related to the emergence of another? If so, what role did the
environment play in tipping the scales?
- Could phosphorus be the key to unlocking the mystery
behind the Ediacaran extinction and the sudden emergence of animal life on Earth?
- The emergence of hard parts in animals by phosphate deposition could account for the
explosion of fossils in the Cambrian rock record, since hard parts are better preserved over long time
scales than soft body parts.
Controversy may continue far into the future, Mullen acknowledged. How do you solve a
puzzle with an infinite number of pieces?
The cause of the Cambrian explosion and the mass extinction that preceded it is made complicated
by the seemingly infinite pieces that make up the whole puzzle. Figuring out how the different
environmental elements may have interacted is difficult, in part, because the world back then was
such a different place than the one we now experience. Whether phosphate is a key piece
in that puzzle, merely a contributing factor, or simply a side effect of other events
remains a mystery. What is certain is that the development of such biomineralization made
nature the bloody battlefield of tooth and claw versus protective body armor that continues to this day.
For assuming that environmental causes alone produced the eyes of trilobites, the vertebrae of fish, and
all the other organs of dozens of phyla; for attributing this complexity to the addition of certain atoms;
and for regurgitating the Malthusian (06/05/2007) iconic imagery of
red teeth and bloody claws; Mullen wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.
NASAs Astrobiology program: your tax dollars berserk.
MRI Inventor Honored 06/11/2007
Next headline on:
Dr. Raymond V. Damadian, inventor of the MRI scanner, received the 2007 National Inventor of the Year Award in Washington
DC, according to a press release from the
Property Owners Education Foundation.
Damadian, head of
FONAR Corporation, which he founded in 1978, received the 2007 award for inventing the
Upright MRI, a scanner that allows physicians to image
patients in various weight-bearing positions in order
to view tissues or analyze the spine, joints, or bones for fractures under the strain of normal use rather than
in a prone position. Despite Philips Corporation commercials now airing on TV,
FONAR advertises theirs as the only true Open MRI system. The
tunnel MRI devices require the patient to lie on a bed. Open MRI allows for much more
flexibility in positioning of the target tissue, and much more comfort for the patient.
In a press release from the company May 17,
Damadian explained why this is like going from the gas lamp era to the age of electric lights.
For years, Dr. Damadian had to defend his original MRI patent
against large international corporations and he eventually won. Yet in 2003, the Nobel
Price for the MRI was given to two rivals who built on his discovery.
The award article tells how he is now working on an operating room MRI that will allow
surgeons to see diseased tissue in real time as they operate. The first such device has been
installed at Oxford University in England.
You recall that suspicions loomed large in 2003 that Damadian was denied the
Nobel Prize because of his creationist views (02/09/2004).
Its good to see his epochal work continue to get recognized. 46 years from now, when the Nobel
Committees 2003 records are opened, the truth may come out about their anti-creationist bias.
By then, the Nobel Prize itself may be a relic of the 20th century. Historians, though, will
continue to honor Damadian as the man who pioneered inventions that have helped millions.
College-level books are in awe of the complexity of the cell, so why do high school students get
simplistic Darwinism in their textbooks? From 06/17/2002.
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
Origin of Life Made Simple: Stochastic Innovation Answers I.D. 06/08/2007
A press release from UC San Francisco teases,
Before life emerged on earth, either a primitive kind of metabolism or an RNA-like duplicating machinery
must have set the stage so experts believe. But what preceded these pre-life steps?
Stochastic innovation can be considered a euphemism for chance invention. A stochastic process is one
where chance and natural law interact. Justin Bradford and Ken Dill came up with a model that
they believe bridges the gap between primordial ingredients and working machinery at least
conceptually. Their model was published in PNAS June 4.1 The press release
gives the upshot, which focuses on the interactions between simple chemical catalysts, such as the surfaces of clay
A pair of UCSF scientists has developed a model explaining how simple chemical and physical
processes may have laid the foundation for life. Like all useful models, theirs can be
tested, and they describe how this can be done. Their model is based on simple, well-known chemical
and physical laws.
The basic idea is that simple principles of chemical interactions allow for a kind of natural selection
on a micro scale: enzymes can cooperate and compete with each other in simple ways,
leading to arrangements that can become stable, or locked in, says Ken Dill, PhD, senior
author of the paper and professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF.
But is it really possible to extend natural selection to an abiotic environment?2 The press
release compares this chemical selection to natural selection in living things: neurons, ant communication,
and Darwins theory in general. Like these more obvious processes, the chemical interactions
in the model involve competition, cooperation, innovation and a preference for consistency, they say.
Yet these examples are all under the control of a genetic code. And teleological terms like competition, cooperation,
innovation and preferences can hardly be ascribed to molecules.
Thus far, this would be an argument from
analogy a logical fallacy.
The authors attempted to bring this back to reality:
In its simplest form, the model shows how two catalysts in a solution, A and B, each acting to catalyze a
different reaction, could end up forming what the scientists call a complex, AB. The
deciding factor is the relative concentration of their desired partners. The
process could go like this: Catalyst A produces a chemical that catalyst B uses. Now, since B normally
seeks out this chemical, sometimes B will be attracted to A if its desired chemical is not otherwise
available nearby. As a result, A and B will come into proximity, forming a complex.
This is an improvement, but they still described molecules as players desiring one another and hoping to improve. Did the
journal paper, where higher standards of accuracy are expected, do any better? A quick look shows them starting with the same
analogies and teleological language:
The word complex is key because it shows how simple chemical interactions, with
few players, and following basic chemical laws, can lead to a novel combination of molecules of greater complexity.
There are several examples of what might be called stochastic innovation, whereby a biological,
physical, or sociological system: (i) searches among viable options, then (ii) selects one or
more of those options that is best by some metric, then (iii) locks in that selection for
the future. In biology, the best-known example is Darwinian evolution, where
variation is the term that describes the search step, and natural selection is the term
that describes steps (i) and (ii).
They proceeded to apply this reasoning to neurons and ant colonies and humans: Human beings, businesses,
and social organizations evolve through decision-making: they search among the options available
to them, make self-serving choices, then remember and act on those decisions in the
future. It is still unclear, however, how molecules can do these things.
point, the authors are going to have to restrict their vocabulary to the non-teleological, impersonal language
of chemical laws and chance:
Our interest here is in whether stochastic innovation might also be achievable in chemistry and
biochemistry. Can chemical and biochemical reactions be chained together in complex and innovative
ways, driven only by simple physicochemical search and selection processes? If so, it may be useful,
not only as a tool in chemistry and biochemistry, but also for giving insights into the processes of
chemical organization that may have occurred during prebiotic evolution.
This is where the rubber must meet the road. Surprisingly, as they were putting on their gloves to announce their model,
they made some embarrassing admissions about their predecessors:
Our goal is not to explain some existing body of data, because we know of none that
pertains. Rather, our goal here is to propose a type of organizing principle that has not
been explored before, as far as we know, but that is based on well established physicochemical principles and
that can be tested by experiments. Our initial motivation for this work was to understand
some puzzles of prebiotic chemistry, where, it could be argued, the field is just as limited by a lack of
specific testable models at the moment as it is by a lack of experiments.
Leaving that little revelation behind, lets examine the nuts and bolts of their model.
They laid down a few assumptions and boundary conditions, and spoke of conceptual catalysts A and B that
interact according to simple rules. (A and B are imaginary molecules in a computer, not real chemicals off
the shelf). Out of their ground rules, the following phenomena emerge: cooperation, competition,
consistency, and innovation or so they claim.
As an example of competition, they introduced a super-A player that does a better
job of catalyzing. The result? The rich get richer: Within our simple chemical model system, this
competition resembles Darwinian selection, except that our metric of success is
AB complex formation, whereas the metric of success in biological systems is
But is this really an escape from teleology? So far it
appears that these AB complexes are little more than gunk, if they have no function or
goal. They would merely accumulate by chemical laws of mass action and osmosis till some limiting
factor brings the state to equilibrium.
Our model shows that consistency has value, exhibiting tortoise and hare
behavior, they boasted, but who would be there to ascribe values? What judge would be watching the race and
deciding the winner? What crowd in the stands would be cheering on their champion? Their analogical language
continued, showing that the tortoise wins, just like in the fable: Thus, sustained consistency is more
effective for complex formation than high-activity-burst behavior.
Next, they added more catalytic pairs to the model, and got what they called
functional hierarchies. They said, Thus, multiple catalysts can be driven together,
potentially into a variety of topological arrangements, including metabolic chains, networks, and
cycles. Somehow, metabolism got snuck into the picture. Metabolism presupposes the
harnessing of energy for function.
Then, the authors threw in another surprise: they claimed their model dispenses with a famous intelligent design argument:
These results bear on an idea that has been called irreducible complexity. It
has been argued that complex biological and prebiotic chemical systems could not have arisen by simple
physicochemical processes, because there would have been no selective advantage for each of the putative
incremental changes along the way. In that view, what good is half an eye? An organism
would not be served by anything less than a full eye, so intermediate structures would not have imparted
enough value to survive natural selection. In that view, irreducible refers to a system
that would fail to function if any one component is removed, and irreducible complexity refers to the idea that
such systems require design and could not be developed by stochastic innovation. The
counterargument, seen in computer simulations, for example, has been that stochastic innovation works
differently: evolution doesnt know the final end-goal in advance, but finds it through a
random search in indirect, incremental steps.
Sure enough, the first reference is to Michael Behes book, Darwins Black Box, and
the counterargument refers to Lenski and Adamis digital organisms (see
07/04/2004 entry). But in that case, ID critics charged
the evolutionists with investigator interference by imposing their mental powers and decisions on the players (see
These two authors are now claiming that an irreducible system has emerged by blind physicochemical forces.
The ending discussion asserted that this model has another beneficial by-product:
it explains gaps in the fossil record. They explained:
In short, the intermediate states are unstable. The steps are downhill. One
evolutionary step leads to the next, quickly followed by the next, and so on, without pausing.
In the evolutionary metaphor, half an eye never appears as a stable state because such a state is
quickly driven by even stronger evolutionary forces to form a complete eye, maybe
for a different purpose than the half-eye. Such two-state transitions are also common
in protein folding, for example, where the denatured state is followed in time by a partly structured
state that is immediately followed by an even more structured state, etc., until the molecule becomes
fully folded into the native structure. At the earliest stages of folding, the protein
does not know that it is headed toward the native state; it is just seeking a
situation that is marginally better than its previous state.
Unpacking that paragraph, we find more personification and teleology again:
we have steps leading to states that have purpose and are better than previous states.
We have proteins that are seeking to go uphill in incremental steps.4
Winding up, the authors explained why their model supports the view of a growing minority of
origin-of-life researchers, that metabolism preceded genetics
(06/12/2006). Metabolic chains and cycles of
reactions emerge in their computer model without a genetic code. Of course, they conceded,
an important virtue of ultimately having a genetic system is that it provides much
longer term memory for the lock-in step (step 3 in the Introduction) than does
nongenetic propagation, where memory is merely provided by a ratio of off-rates to resource fluctuation times.
Yet virtue seems limited to moral agents, not chemicals.
They explained that search, selection, and lock-in are the only mechanistic processes required.
Search occurs through chemical attraction,
selection occurs through the formation of AB complexes, and lock-in occurs when the complexes are robust
against depletion disasters. This, they claimed, is the virtue of their model: it supplies a mechanistic answer
to the intelligent design critics:
A key distinction between stochastic innovation, explored here, and design-based innovation, in
which a complex system is engineered and constructed by a designer, is that stochastic innovation involves
no implicit goals and no guidance toward a particular purpose. The
Darwinian paradigm shows how increasing complexity and order can arise from processes
that do not involve guidance through intelligence or design.
They even offered a way to test their model: measure if AB complexes are more concentrated when the common
resource is depleted. It was not clear, however, if anything would happen at all if an intelligent
lab worker were not present. They assumed a tester would select the catalysts and control the concentrations.
The final paragraphs discussed weaknesses of previous self-organization models.
Theirs, they boasted, requires no genetics, no designer, and only the laws of thermodynamics and
chemical attraction. Yet the conclusion relies heavily on the word function:
A well known process in chemistry is the binding and association of molecules, driven by thermodynamic
forces. Here, we consider whether catalyst molecules might be driven to associate with each
other, through typical binding forces, but based on their molecular functions. Functional driving
forces are well-known in biology, through the principles of evolution, but are not yet much
studied in chemistry. We propose a model for how different Michaelis-Menten enzymes or
catalysts might tend to associate, driven by the production or depletion of common resources. The
agents do not associate if the common resource is plentiful. We call this the shielding principle.
In this way, agents organize adaptively, and complexity can form from simpler systems.
In our model, function dictates structure, a reversal of the paradigm in which
structure dictates function.
The unanswered question is, can function exist without biology? If chemical function is meaningless,
then they have assumed a biological concept that they needed to prove.
1Justin A. Bradford and Ken A. Dill, Stochastic innovation as a mechanism by which catalysts
might self-assemble into chemical reaction networks,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0703522104, June 12, 2007, vol. 104, no. 24, pp. 10098-10103.
2See online book, esp. page 90.
3Recall that if evolutionary success is measured in terms of survival, the result is a
tautology: the fittest survive because the survivors are the fittest by definition. p
See 10/29/2002 entry.
4In the protein analogy, the authors are ignoring the fact that protein folding is assisted
by chaperones, and is under the control of the genetic code. If not folded correctly within the
time allowed, the protein is taken to the recycling bin (proteasome).
If you took the time to labor through their tortured thought processes,
you found the same old dirty tricks the Darwin Party uses every time:
begging the question,
glittering generalities and
bluffing. It was seasoned with the usual wishful-thinking
words might, may, perhaps, coulda-woulda-shoulda. Michael Behe could make quick
confetti of this paper were he provided a chance to respond. He just released a new book,
by the way: The Edge of Evolution
(Free Press, 2007). You know it must be good: the Darwinists quickly trashed it the day it went into print.
Video Clip: The Rich Little Bird 06/07/2007
We took the time to explore this paper because it was important. It was a direct
attempt to defend Darwinism from three of the most damaging attacks: irreducible complexity, gaps,
and the failures of chemical evolution (e.g., 02/15/2007).
Were you impressed?
Like the evolution-via-computer charlatans, these guys
only got their lab hands dirty with a keyboard. Chemicals are less forgiving.
So lets call their bluff and ask them to perform their proposed test with real molecules.
Ask them to throw some unselected
chemicals off the shelf into a tub with some blocks of clay, sit back two billion years and watch what happens.
No interference allowed. The chemicals must find their own function without
half an eye to see it, and without any intelligent lab assistant to tell them what this
handy word function means.
Next headline on:
Origin of Life
A popular video clip has been circulating around the internet for over a year. It shows an
Australian lyre bird imitating other
birds and man-made sounds. Click
here to watch the 3.5 minute performance. Narrated by David Attenborough, it was voted the
#1 most popular Attenborough moment from the naturalists TV shows.
Speaks for itself. Incredible and fun.
Thankfully, David omitted any of his incessant Darwin-talk in the narration. Maybe
he couldnt think of anything to say that would sound sensible.
Did Sponges Invent Nerves? 06/06/2007
Teachers should use this clip as an example of animal intelligence.
Think of all the brain power and vocal hardware required for the bird to perform these feats.
This is no hoax or sound-editing trick. Even Rich Little would be amazed.
For extra fun, visit Fred Newmans website on
MouthSounds and consider the breadth of audio
capabilities inherent in the human vocal apparatus (for a hilarious sampler, watch A
Rumination on his videos page).
Wouldnt it be a racket to stage a contest between Fred and the lyre bird?
Encore: Now to really freak out, watch the talking cats.
Next headline on:
Scientists didnt expect
to find working neurons in a sea sponge, among the simplest of multicellular organisms.
Sponges lack internal organs and a nervous system. Yet there they were, according to
with synapses and apparent means of communication across them.
back the origins of these genetic components of the nervous system to at or before the
first animals much earlier than scientists had previously suspected, said
Todd Oakley of UC Santa Barbara. It represents a gap of 600
million years from the time sea sponges are assumed to have arrived and the arrival of
the first animal with a rudimentary nervous system.
The article quotes Ken Kocik,
also of UCSB, using this surprise finding to elucidate evolutionary theory: We found this mysterious
unknown structure in the sponge, and it is clear that evolution was able to take this
entire structure, and, with small modifications, direct its use toward a new function.
Evolution can take these off the shelf components and put them together in new and interesting ways.
Yet this is not the way classical Darwinism works. David Berlinski,
a Darwin critic, in an earlier article, insisted that the law of natural selection must
be strictly enforced to be Darwinian at all.
A mechanism that requires a discerning human agent cannot be Darwinian.
The Darwinian mechanism neither anticipates nor remembers. It gives no
direction and makes no choices. What is unacceptable in evolutionary theory,
what is strictly forbidden, is the appearance of a force with the power to survey
time, a force that conserves a force or a property because it will be useful.
Such a force is no longer Darwinian. How would a blind force know such a thing?
And by what means could future usefulness be transmitted to the present?
If life is, as evolutionary biologists so often say, a matter merely of blind
thrusting and throbbing, any definition of natural selection must plainly meet what I have
elsewhere called a rule against deferred success.
It is a rule that cannot be violated with impunity; if evolutionary theory
is to retain its intellectual integrity, it cannot be violated at all. But the rule is
widely violated, the violations so frequent as to amount to a formal fallacy.
We must force the Darwinists to use consistent language.
Occasionally they engage in poetic license and personify
evolution, thinking (in their minds)
that since evolution is a fact of history, it appears in hindsight as if there
were goals had been foreseen by bacteria and sponges, as if they saw through the years that
their experiments would someday yield nerves, muscles and brains. If pressed, the
Darwinist storytellers might argue that they dont really
mean the teleological language. They could probably recite the blind Darwinian mechanism
more accurately if they had to.
New Bio: Read the new short biographical sketch of William Whewell, our Featured
Creation Scientist of the Month. William Who? Find out who, and why some
ideas this first scientist raised are still being debated.
All fine and good; so tell them they have to. Were onto the
semantic tricks they play. The teleological talk is outlawed within their world view.
Force them to restate the claim in consistent Darwinian terms. Thats fair, isnt
it? Sure. Then just sit back and watch the whole story unravel as they hum and
haw and try to say it correctly. Be ready with the ruler to slap their knuckles with
Evolution can take these components [SLAP] er, something happened
that was able to put them together [SLAP] I mean, rather, that parts that had proved useful
to sponges [SLAP] ouch! All right already! A mutation occurred....
Evolutionists foul out whenever an umpire is present. Why? Because fouls are
the only plays in their game book.
Next headline on:
Color-Blind Cephalopods Perform Colorful Camouflage Tricks 06/06/2007
Roger Hanlon has studied octopi, squid and cuttlefish for decades. He stands in
awe of their ability to camouflage themselves. In a Primer article for
Current Biology,1 he detailed some of their sleight-of-skin magic tricks.
His article has frames from a movie clip that show an octopus changing its
skin from plain to mottled in milliseconds, then to almost pure white in two seconds.
Its not just the color that changes. Cephalopods also have the ability to
change the texture of their skin from smooth to dimpled. They can also change the
pattern from plain to mottled to what Hanlon calls disruptive bold
patterns that would include stripes and light and dark patches of varying shapes,
scales and orientations, and some patches [that] are usually of high contrast.
For such mechanisms to work, the octopus or cuttlefish has to have (1)
eyes that can sense what kind of background theyre against, (2) brains that can
process the information and send the appropriate signals to the skin, and (3) skin cells
tied to neurons that can respond quickly and draw from a large suite of possible
patterns. These cells include chromatophores (color cells), iridophores (reflecting
cells) and papillae (skin cells that produce bumps). Putting it all together,
Rapidity of visual change is accomplished by direct neural control of chromatophore organs,
which are cytoelastic sacs of pigment with radial muscles attached around the periphery.
Each muscle is innervated by motoneurons that originate in the lower motor centers of the brain,
and they travel without any synapse to each chromatophore organ. Third, camouflage
benefits from both optical and physical three-dimensional effects, the latter being due
chiefly to the changeable skin papillae. Note in Figure 2 how the three-dimensionality
of the skin is also under fine motor control. Curiously, although papillae expression
is regulated by visual input, neither this nor the biomechanics of how the papillae operate
as a muscular hydrostat in the skin has been studied in any detail.
So here is a field of study ripe for investigation by biophysicists, neurologists, optical
specialists, and specialists in a variety of fields. New techniques with underwater
computers and spectrometers have just begun, he said. Hanlons team has performed
experiments for five years with cuttlefish. They put them against all kinds of background
patterns and watched how their camouflage systems responded. Surprisingly, it appears
they are color blind! Yet Their color matches to natural visual backgrounds appear to be
excellent, he said. How do they do it? Stay tuned: we continue to search for
mechanisms that help them achieve color-blind camouflage.
One of the most intriguing effects the octopus can achieve is the ability to
send hidden messages. Hanlon explains:
Other features of the cephalopod dynamic camouflage system have yet to be studied in detail.
The skin, for example, is a marvelous example of rapid, highly coordinated optical malleability:
pigmentary and structural coloration are combined in many ways to achieve
vastly different appearances, both from close-up and distant viewing. The
directional structural reflectors known as iridophores (which in most animals are passive
reflectors) are not only under active control by cephalopods, but they produce polarized
signals that pass unaffected through the overlying pigmented chromatophores. This
raises the possibility that a dynamically camouflaged cephalopod could be simultaneously
sending a hidden signal to a conspecific, because cephalopods can perceive polarized
light while most of their predators cannot, while remaining well camouflaged using pigmented
If true, this indicates that cephalopods already mastered another human trick: hiding in plain
sight. Cryptologists have considered it a challenging puzzle to communicate a secret message
in the presence of an adversary, like two jailmates communicating a secret to one another while an
active warden is watching them. Called steganography, the art of concealing a message
in plain sight is a lively subject in computer technology. You can find software programs
that will hide or detect secret messages embedded in pictures or sound files, for instance.
Here, it appears that octopi, squid and cuttlefish have known this trick all along.
Lastly, an octopus can alter its whole shape to mimic something else.
Camouflage works well when you are hovering still, but what about when you need to move about for
foraging or finding a mate? Hanlon shows a picture of an octopus shaping its body like a
flounder. It not only imitates the overall shape, but mimics the fins, the behavior and
speed of the fish.
The mimic octopus of Indonesia has even more tricks up
its sleeve. It can look like a lionfish or sea snake, among other things
(see MarineBio.com and picture of it
looking somewhat like a rabbit). Some of these tricks
are illustrated in motion in the film series
Creatures that Defy Evolution. One episode also shows the cuttlefish with rapid-fire
lighting effects that can hypnotize its prey.2
1Roger Hanlon, Primer: Cephalopod dynamic camouflage,
Volume 17, Issue 11, 5 June 2007, Pages R400-R404, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.03.034.
2For the record, Roger Hanlon is an evolutionist with no connection to these films.
Sadly, we now have to switch from the Amazing Facts thought
pattern to the Dumb Ideas thought pattern. Rogers excellent article was marred
by repeated references to evolution having accomplished these things. Nowhere did he
explain how a blind process could achieve them, just that they did.
Notice how he puts have evolved in past tense as a matter of assumed fact, right
alongside incredible wonders of design:
No More Need for Embryonic Stem Cells? 06/06/2007
The worst example is right at the end of the article. Evolutionists
are the worst offenders at question-begging
among educated people. Read the following
paragraph and ask yourself how any intelligent person could say such a thing, linking art, science,
high technology and system-wide complexity to Darwins theory of blind chance unless he had
been brainwashed aforethought that miracles are possible in Charlies web of belief:
- Cephalopods have evolved a different life history tactic: with their keen vision and
sophisticated skin with direct neural control for rapid change and fine-tuned
optical diversity they move where they wish and can adapt their body pattern for
appropriate camouflage against a staggering array of visual backgrounds....
- How many camouflage patterns are there, and how many visual tricks have evolved to deceive visual predators?
- While evolution has produced body colorations and patterns of bewildering diversity, we may be
observing a trend in which certain effective pattern types are conserved across phyla and ecological habitat.
- We do not yet understand the type of mimicry involved (for example, Batesian or Mullerian),
the evolution of this form of camouflage, or the visual stimulation that may evoke it.
- Future studies on fish vision would help us understand not only the anatomical organization of
cephalopod pigments and structural reflectors, but the details of the whole-animal patterns that
have evolved in response to the wide array of predator visual systems.
The subtle ways in which edges, shadows, outlines, patterns, colors, contrast and papillae are
used by animals for camouflage or communication also seem to have much in common
with art, photography, landscape architecture and related fields, because light and dimensionality
are being manipulated in similar fashion. When watching the video from Figure 1, the
aphorism truth is stranger than fiction comes to mind, especially when compared to the
invisibility cloaks that have recently received so much attention in the popular
media. The speed and fluidity with which cephalopods simultaneously maintain
predator awareness, search for prey, and coordinate a camouflage body pattern with each microhabitat
offers insight into how a complex biological organism works as an intact system.
There are great challenges yet to confront in understanding the sensory and
behavioral interactions between visual predators and prey, and it is humbling yet intriguing
to think that such an ancient lineage as the mollusks has evolved such a sophisticated
system with which to test camouflage.
Thus an otherwise stimulating paragraph was deflated by those two little words, has evolved.
For extreme intellectual schizophrenia and the worst case of begging the question in recent memory,
this paragraph easily wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.
Next headline on:
Harvesting human eggs and creating embryos for
embryonic stem cells may soon become a thing of the past.
Nature Science Update
reported that four teams have verified that normal skin cells in mice can be reprogrammed
to act identically to embryonic stem cells.
The technique, called induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS), holds
promise to end the ethically-questionable practice of cloning human embryos then killing them
for their stem cells. If researchers succeed, it will make it relatively easy to
produce cells that seem indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells, and that are genetically
matched to individual patients, wrote David Cyranoski.
This new practice not only overcomes the ethical questions: it is easier to
do, and matches the cells to the patient. Neither eggs nor embryos are necessary.
Theres no trick, no magic, commented Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University,
who pioneered the technique. Another researcher was so impressed, he commented,
Its unbelievable, just amazing. He compared the accomplishment to the
cloning of Dolly the sheep: Its that type of accomplishment.
What remains is to test the technique with human cells. It also
remains to be seen if the cells can be transplanted back into the patient for therapeutic
purposes. At least for now, biologists may have a safer and ethically favorable
alternative for studying stem cells in the lab. The
Post printed a follow-up story on June 7 with reaction from ethicists, religious leaders and pro-ES
stem cell advocates. The announcement coincided with Congresss second vote to approve funding
for embryonic stem cell research, reported Focus
on the Family, expected to be vetoed again by the President. The news line at
Council reminded its readers that scientists had recently used adult stem cells to manufacture
insulin an important step in finding a cure for diabetes (see
Already, it appears proponents of ES research are defending their turf. In
Science the same week,
Constance Holden ended her report, Hochedlinger and others hasten to point out that research
needs to progress on all fronts because all systems have their limitations.
Keep an eye on this story and on the pro-ES advocates.
The article quoted one who said that research on embryonic stem cells remains absolutely
essential. Why? It is still too early to tell, but if all barriers are
removed for use of iPS instead of ES, the reaction of the embryonic stem cell advocates
will be instructive. Will the Hollywood celebrities still seek air time for tear-jerking
commercials, when no law will be required to overcome ethical barriers that no longer exist?
Will the $3 billion California stem cell institute switch to the newer, safer, ethical iPS?
Will Big Science lobbyists cease their rhetoric about how ethical objections to ES will
leave America scientifically behind the rest of the world? Stay tuned.
The Malthus Effect on Politics and Economics 06/05/2007
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
In 1798, Thomas Malthus published an essay that had a profound impact on Charles Darwin and
others. He said that population growth vastly outstrips the resources for their survival.
This created a mindset of imminent crisis that lent itself to radical political
schemes as well Darwins idea of survival of the fittest. Was Malthus right?
A brief criticism appeared this month in an unexpected place: a geology journal article
talking about oil futures.
In a brief paper in GSA Today,1 Eric S.
Cheney (U of Washington) and Marianne W. Hawkes argued that the world is not on the verge of an
oil crisis. To begin their argument, they looked at history, and singled out Malthus2 as a culprit
whose ideas have been discredited:
The concept that resources are essentially finite may have originated with Thomas Malthus.
He concluded in 1798 that the exponential growth of Earths human population was unsustainable
because agricultural production could only increase arithmetically. Since then, mechanized
farming, irrigation, refrigeration, chemical fertilizers (from petroleum and other mineral deposits),
hybrid grains, genetic modification, and improved transportation systems have blossomed.
Now, famine is only caused by political events and by the inability to deliver emergency supplies
following natural disasters.
From there, the authors critiqued a dire prediction of M. K. Hubbert in 1956 that oil production had
peaked and the world was faced with a precipitous, unsustainable decline. Scientists and activists
frequently refer to Hubberts Peak to lobby for drastic political action.
Cheney and Hawkes showed that
numerous factors since Hubberts prediction have changed the picture. Oil and gas production
will not peak and fall off, but hit a plateau with a long, slow decline and prices rising gradually far into the
future. The scenario presented here, they sang, places us among the optimists.
Drawing parallels with what happened to food production, they argued that political and
economic factors are the main drivers of oil production, not the abundance of the resources themselves.
Nationally owned companies currently control 90% of the worlds production of oil
and gas, they said. These companies tend to be secretive and under-capitalized.
And just as Thomas Malthus saw doom before major advances in agriculture took place, Hubbert announced
his doomsday prediction before major new reserves were discovered, before plate tectonics theory opened
up new search strategies, before improved recovery technologies were invented, and before alternative
energy sources became economically viable.
In conclusion, they argued that the problem with oil is not availability but politics.
Static or gradually declining production would be fairly easy to manage if oil and politics did not
mix, they said. Crises will recur due to aggressive or unstable exporting nations and
to counterproductive legislation and foreign policies of some of the major consuming nations.
1Eric S. Cheney and Marianne W. Hawkes, The future of hydrocarbons: Hubberts peak or a plateau?,
Volume 17, Issue 6 (June 2007), pp. 69-70.
2Malthus was not the first to have a pessimistic view of global economics. The mercantile
system of 16th-18th centuries was built on the principle that wealth could not be generated only distributed.
This tended to keep peasants in their place and nobles careful to hang onto their assets.
Capitalism represented a radical change of view: the power of the individual to create wealth through
hard work and creativity. These ideas were fed by the Protestant Reformations emphasis on
individual responsibility and the intrinsic value of work.
This entry is partially off topic, as our focus is creation vs. evolution,
not the eco-politics of oil production. We are also not here to argue the merits of the case made
by these two, or to suggest that complacency about the future of oil is an acceptable posture.
Conservation is still virtuous and necessary.
Note, however, that these ideas were printed in a publication of the Geological Society of America,
a very pro-Darwinist organization, and one of the authors is from the University of Washington, not known
for its political conservatism or skepticism of evolutionary theory.
How Old Are Sand Dunes? 06/04/2007
The tie-in to Malthus, however, is important, since the Malthusian
principle had a profound impact on Darwin. It was arguably the key insight Darwin claimed led to his
theory of natural selection. The rest of the story social Darwinism, Marxism and todays
oil-crisis mentality shows the power of an idea to affect the lives of billions of people.
Now, famines are only caused by political events is an understatement. The worst famines
in the history of the world were attributable to Stalin and
Mao, whose ideologies were built squarely on
Darwin, whose main idea was built on Malthus. Another horrific famine in modern times is the
fault of North Koreas communist leader, Kim Jong Il, who lives in opulent luxury building nuclear
weapons and entertaining himself with fine wines and the
worlds largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons, while his people scrape bark off trees to keep
from starving. Solomon stated a
principle almost 3,000 years ago that is the antithesis of Malthus: Abundant food is in the
fallow ground of the poor, but it is swept away by injustice
Malthus came up with not so much an empirical discovery as a mental
picture of the
way the world worked. Yes, he could point to some empirical facts
that seemed to support his concept that population vastly outstrips resources, but it was a naive
generality that ignored (or did not know about) important mitigating factors
chiefly, the power of human creativity to solve problems. Todays scientific farming
technologies can produce bumper crops out of desert sand. And Malthus knew nothing about
Even in the natural world,
we have seen that there are natural feedback mechanisms that can moderate the production of
offspring so that it is not exponentially out of control (e.g., 05/28/2007).
Recall from 03/17/2003 how Jason Wolf showed
that indirect genetic effects can also act as governors on the engine of change, or slippage on
the treadmill. The vision of nature red in
tooth and claw has changed dramatically since 1798 and 1859. Many evolutionists today envision
a friendlier world of cooperation, symbiosis and sustainable ecosystems. Malthus, clearly, was not the last word.
The lessons here are many. Ideas have consequences. Complex problems have
simple, easy-to-understand wrong answers. Intuitively obvious principles can represent false
visions of the world. And scientific or political ideologies built on them can be disastrous.
Before jumping on any political or economic bandwagon, remember the lesson of Malthus
and his ideological offspring. They did grow exponentially and led to an economic and political
world Soviet-red in tooth and claw.
Next headline on:
Politics and Ethics
The Namib Desert has some of the largest sand dunes in the world. How old are they?
Three scientists from the University of London decided to find out. They took cores out
of some dunes in Namibia and analyzed the sand, using multiple high-tech methods. Their
conclusion, just published in Geology: the dunes are much
younger than previously thought only about 5,700 years old.1 That means
this huge field of dunes, some over 380 meters high, could have formed from the base up within
Previously, geologists were convinced that these dunes were far older:
It has been argued that large linear dunes are relics of a cooler, drier, and windier climate
during the Last Glacial Maximum, a hypothesis supported by luminescence dating of linear dunes
in many areas (Lancaster, 2007) and by the considerable inertia of large dunes, which require
thousands of years to respond to changes in wind regime (Warren and Allison, 1998). In
addition, the large number of endemic species within the Namib Sand Sea has been given as
evidence for a long and continuous period of hyperarid conditions within Namibia (Ward et al., 1983)
and therefore potentially very old dunes. These ideas gave rise to the hypothesis that,
although the linear dunes of the Namib Sand Sea are currently active, they should have
some older, Pleistocene core.
The Pleistocene epoch dates at 1.8 million to 11,5000 years in the standard geologic column.
The Last Glacial Maximum is thought to be 20,000 years ago.
The team used ground-penetrating radar on a study dune 70m high and 600m wide, and
surveyed a 4km area. They also used a drilling rig to dig out a core, and dated it with
optically stimulated luminescence (this gives an indication of the last time sand grains were exposed
to sunlight). They identified three domains within the core, which they
said indicates three phases of dune construction with pauses in between.
The first hiatus lasted 2,830 years, they said, due to a prolonged period of increased rainfall.
In their revised model, the last hiatus was very short, occurring between 100 and 50 years ago.
It was due to reworking of the western flank of the dune by superimposed transverse dunes migrating
north along the dune flank within the past 50 yr. What does all this mean?
Our studies show that large, complex, linear dunes in the northern Namib Sand Sea
are younger than expected and are Holocene in age. The relative youth of the
dune indicates complete turnover of sand during the Holocene, leaving no relic of older
Pleistocene dunes, if indeed they existed in this area. It is possible that there are older
dune deposits preserved within the Namib Sand Sea farther to the south, but we have no evidence
(The Holocene is charted from 11,500 years ago to the present.)
In their introduction, they stated that Linear dunes are the most widespread type of desert sand dune,
but they are rarely recognized in the geologic record. This study of a classic sand dune in the
present, therefore, has further implications for interpreting the past as seen in the rocks:
The lack of a preserved late Pleistocene core to the dune shows that large
linear dunes can be entirely reworked during the Holocene in hyper-arid environments such as the Namib Desert.
Our studies therefore provide firm evidence for lateral migration of linear dunes and indicate that
the deposits of many dunes preserved in the rock record previously interpreted to be transverse
to the mean transport direction may in fact be those of dunes of linear form that combine the deposits
of flow-parallel and flow-transverse elements. This has important implications for interpretation of
ancient eolian sandstones, past wind regimes, and resulting paleoclimatic and paleogeographic reconstructions.
Its timely this study of the Namib dunes came out just when planetary scientists are trying to figure out the
dunes on Saturns moon Titan (cf. 05/04/2006).
A new set of scientific papers about Titan was just reported in a series
of press releases from Jet Propulsion Lab
(see also Science Daily).
The series of articles announces the latest results from ongoing analysis of
data from the Cassini and Huygens spacecraft by the European Space Agency and NASA.
The article on Titans
Most of Titans dunes are giants, each one stretching for up to 100 kilometres in length across the
dark plains and separated by 10 kilometres. Instead of silica sand, these dunes are made up of
sugar-size hydrocarbon grains between 100 and 300 microns in diameter. Still, the dynamics
of dune formation should share some commonalities on the two worlds, once the factors of grain size, wind speed
and gravity are taken into account. Perhaps the vast dune fields on Titan were formed in short order as well
compared to the billions of years the moon is assumed to have existed.
1Bristow, Duller and Lancaster, Age and dynamics of linear dunes in the Namib Desert,
June 2007, pp. 555-558, DOI: 10.1130/G23369A.1.
Lets add this interesting discovery to our growing list
of geological processes being revised drastically downward in age (e.g.,
01/12/2007). The questions they are
not asking are as interesting as the ones they are answering. We can think of
three: (1) Why are there so few linear sand dunes in the rock record?
(cf. 06/27/2003, 07/11/2001).
(2) Will geologists now
be willing to drastically revise downward the formation times for alleged fossilized dunes, like the
Coconino Sandstone? (3) If a wetter period lasted almost 3000 years between earlier stages of
Namib dune formation, long before civilization began using oil and gas, how can we be sure humans today
are causing significant climate change? Try your hand. What other questions does
this paper raise in your perceptive, logical mind? Tip: you can include Titan.
Why the first life could not form in hot springs or deep-sea vents, from 06/14/2002.
Next headline on:
Did Walking Evolve in the Trees? 06/04/2007
The news media are all echoing a report from Science1 that orangutan
behavior in trees tells us something about the evolution of human bipedalism (see
Geographic, Fox News,
and MSNBC News). If this new view
gains acceptance, it means the old iconic image of man emerging upright from a stooped-over ape
posture (05/03/2007) is wrong. A new icon will have to show a descent from the
trees. Paul OHiggins and Sarah Elton said in scientese, This raises the possibility that
preadaptations for hominin bipedalism arose in arboreal settings rather than in terrestrial environments.
The original paper by Thorpe, Holder and Crompton says, Orangutans react to branch
flexibility like humans running on springy tracks, by increasing knee and hip extension, whereas all other
primates do the reverse. Human bipedalism is thus less an innovation than an exploitation of a
locomotor behavior retained from the common great ape ancestor.2 But is it fair to make
an inference about humans from observations of living orangutans? That is the question.
OHiggins and Elton noted that this reopens the debate about the origins
of our own peculiar habit of walking on two feet. To date, they confessed,
there is no consensus about the adaptive scenario that could have led to the adoption of terrestrial
bipedalism. They listed four competing theories. A similar lack of agreement
is also evident in discussions about the locomotor behavior of the hominin ancestor.
While admitting that Thorpe et al have invigorated the debate by presenting a
plausible and elegant argument for the tree-down theory, they said, it also causes
new problems: We must now question whether morphologies that indicate bipedalism can be used
to identify hominins at the base of their radiation. Not only that,
This then raises the issue of whether we can unequivocally identify any traits that
are truly diagnostic of early hominins.
The MSNBC report mentioned another cause for doubt. Why would chimps lose that
bipedal ability while whatever became human retained it, asked Will Harcourt-Smith of the American Museum
of Natural History in New York. He favors a view that our ancestor was multi-talented:
Another view of this might be that actually, our ancestor was rather good at doing a number of things.
Orangutans are able to stand straight-legged, like a person when manipulating their stance
to reach food high overhead. The Associated Press story includes this quizzical statement:
Evolution requires a reason for such a special skill.
1Paul OHiggins and Sarah Elton, Anthropology: Walking on Trees,
1 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5829, pp. 1292-1294, DOI: 10.1126/science.1143571.
2Thorpe, Holder and Crompton, Origin of Human Bipedalism As an Adaptation for Locomotion on Flexible Branches,
1 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5829, pp. 1328-1331, DOI: 10.1126/science.1140799.
Who is Evolution? Why does she require a reason?
We have just unmasked the idolatry of evolutionists again. They cannot make any tale
fit without invoking their goddess, a mythical person
who works miracles with a goal in mind.
Origin of Multicellularity: Back to the Drawing Board 06/01/2007
You never hear them talking about all the anatomical
adjustments that would be required to have an ape walk upright like a man, and how these adjustments
would have taken place by chance mutations. Arched feet, reshaped skeleton, a new neck and head,
readjusted internal organs, changes to musculature (including buttocks and shoulder girdle), adjustments
to skin and hair and thermoregulation, new brain
software how many other major changes would have to occur simultaneously to make
human bipedal motion possible? And people can run! Recall the impressive list of
anatomical specializations required for endurance running (re-read 11/18/2004).
Do you know of any functional activity with requirements that operates by an
unguided process? We must call foul when evolutionists reason from requirements
to Darwinian theory. We must hold them to Darwins own requirements that
evolution must proceed without guidance or direction. No long-term goals can be envisioned,
and no personalities can direct the process. To this we add that assuming evolution did
it anyway is a bad case of begging the question.
Lets ask the Darwinists why the orangutans havent caught onto our
superior means of locomotion if it is so good. And lets further ask why the
orangutans are not observing humans and publishing papers about how primitive humans evolved
into tree climbers like themselves. Better yet, lets have these researchers role-play
the orangutans in trees, barefoot and wearing minimal clothing, so we can sneak some video
of them onto YouTube.
Next headline on:
Micro-RNAs have been found in green algae. So? Whats the big deal? If you
read the statements in Nature,1 it sounds like evolutionary biologists
consider it a big, bad deal:
One thing was not under dispute, however: evolution.
Whatever their role, their presence indicates that
microRNAs could be much more ancient than previously thought; they might have persisted for more than a billion years.
- The discovery, made independently by two labs, dismantles the popular theory that the
regulatory role of microRNAs in gene expression is tied to the evolution of multicellularity.
- The finding is as startling as the discovery ten years ago that the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans
has 19,000 genes, just 1,000 short of the human count...
- People were shocked that the complexity of the genomes in these simpler creatures
was similar to our own, he [Gregory Hannon, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory] says.
Now it seems that the RNA in simple unicellular organisms could be as complex as that in higher creatures.
- This [lack of microRNA in algae], combined with the fact that RNA sequences differ between plants and animals,
helped give rise to the idea that microRNAs evolved independently in plant and animal lineages as parts
of complex regulatory mechanisms associated with multicellularity.
Now it seems that these molecules may predate that evolutionary development.
- It shows how basing conclusions on studies of just one or two model organisms
can really lead you astray in terms of how you think about evolutionary processes,
says Jim Umen from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.
- Nobody knows why such a simple organism needs microRNAs, nor how or when they first appeared.
1Lucy Odling-Smee, Complex set of RNAs found in simple green algae: Single-celled
organisms arent as basic as they seem,
447, 518 (31 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447518b.
See it again? The incorrigibility of Darwinists
(e.g., 05/10/2007 commentary). No amount
of contrary evidence has the power to release the
vice-like grip of evolutionary thinking on their minds. To shield the audience from these
embarrassments, they just turn up the fogma machines (05/14/2007
commentary) and the show goes on.
Next headline on:
Scientist of the Month|
Click on Apollos, the trusty|
|Guide to Evolution
I am a young man and it is encouraging to find a scientific journal on the side of creationism and intelligent design....
Thank you for your very encouraging website.
(a web designer and author in Maryland)
GREAT site. Your ability to expose the clothesless emperor in clear language is indispensable to
us non-science types who have a hard time seeing through the jargon and the hype. Your tireless efforts
result in encouragement and are a great service to the faith community. Please keep it up!
(a medical writer in Connecticut)
I really love your site and check it everyday. I also recommend it to everyone I can, because there is
no better website for current information about ID.
(a product designer in Utah)
Your site is a fantastic resource. By far, it is the most current, relevant and most frequently
updated site keeping track of science news from a creationist perspective. One by one, articles
challenging currently-held aspects of evolution do not amount to much. But when browsing the archives,
its apparent youve caught bucketfulls of science articles and news items that devastate
evolution. The links and references are wonderful tools for storming the gates of evolutionary paradise
and ripping down their strongholds. The commentary is the icing on the cake. Thanks for all your
hard work, and by all means, keep it up!
(a business student in Kentucky)
Thanks for your awesome work; it stimulates my mind and encourages my faith.
(a family physician in Texas)
I wanted to personally thank you for your outstanding website. I am intensely interested in any
science news having to do with creation, especially regarding astronomy. Thanks again for your GREAT
(an amateur astronomer in San Diego)
What an absolutely brilliant website you have. Its hard to express how uplifting it is for me
to stumble across something of such high quality.
(a pharmacologist in Michigan)
I want to make a brief commendation in passing of the outstanding job you did in rebutting the
thinking on the article: Evolution of Electrical Engineering
... What a rebuttal to end all rebuttals, unanswerable,
inspiring, and so noteworthy that was. Thanks for the effort and research you put into it.
I wish this answer could be posted in every church, synagogue, secondary school, and college/university...,
and needless to say scientific laboratories.
(a reader in Florida)
You provide a great service with your thorough coverage of news stories relating to the creation-evolution controversy.
(an elder of a Christian church in Salt Lake City)
I really enjoy your website and have made it my home page so I can check on your latest articles.
I am amazed at the diversity of topics you address. I tell everyone I can about your site and encourage them to
check it frequently.
(a business owner in Salt Lake City)
Ive been a regular reader of CEH for about nine month now, and I look forward to each new posting.... I enjoy the information CEH gleans from current events in science and hope you keep the service going.
(a mechanical engineer in Utah)
It took six years of constant study of evolution to overcome the indoctrination found in public schools of my youth. I now rely on your site; it helps me to see the work of God where I could not see it before and to find miracles where there was only mystery. Your site is a daily devotional that I go to once a day and recommend to everyone. I am still susceptible to the wiles of fake science and I need the fellowship of your site; such information is rarely found in a church.
Now my eyes see the stars God made and the life He designed and I feel the rumblings of joy as promised. When I feel down or worried my solution is to praise God the Creator Of All That Is, and my concerns drain away while peace and joy fill the void. This is something I could not do when I did not know (know: a clear and accurate perception of truth) God as Creator. I could go on and on about the difference knowing our Creator has made, but I believe you understand.
I tell everyone that gives me an opening about your site. God is working through you. Please dont stop telling us how to see the lies or leading us in celebrating the truth. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
(a renowned artist in Wyoming)
I discovered your site a few months ago and it has become essential reading via RSS to
(a cartographer and GIS analyst in New Zealand)
I love your site, and frequently visit to read both explanations of news reports,
and your humor about Bonny Saint Charlie.
(a nuclear safety engineer in Washington)
Your site is wonderful.
(a senior staff scientist, retired, from Arizona)
Ive told many people about your site. Its a tremendous service to
science news junkies not to mention students of both Christianity and
(a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)
...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines. Ive been an avid reader of it since I first discovered your website about five years ago. May I also express my admiration for the speed with which your articles appearoften within 24 hours of a particular news announcement or journal article being published.
(a plant physiologist and prominent creation writer in Australia)
How do you guys do it--reviewing so much relevant material every day and writing incisive,
(a retired high school biology teacher in New Jersey)
Your site is one of the best out there! I really love reading your articles on creation evolution
headlines and visit this section almost daily.
(a webmaster in the Netherlands)
Keep it up! Ive been hitting your site daily (or more...).
I sure hope you get a mountain of encouraging email, you deserve it.
(a small business owner in Oregon)
Great work! May your tribe increase!!!
(a former Marxist, now ID speaker in Brazil)
You are the best. Thank you.
Congratulations for the 6th Anniversary. The work you do is very important.
Please dont ever give up. God bless the whole team.
(an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)
I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do,
cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia
is... I use crev.info for all my signatures on Internet forums etc., it really is fantastic site,
the best site! You see, we(your pleased readers) exist all over the world, so you must be
doing great work! Well i hope you have understand my bad english.
(a biology student in Slovenia)
Thanks for your time, effort, expertise, and humor. As a public school biology teacher I
peruse your site constantly for new information that will challenge evolutionary belief and share much
of what I learn with my students. Your site is pounding a huge dent in evolutions supposed
solid exterior. Keep it up.
(a biology teacher in the eastern USA)
Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.
For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites. I many times check your
website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor,
and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding. Your ability to cut through
the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that
is a valuable asset....
I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide
coverage of the issues. You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.
It is apparent in ever so many ways.
Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful
as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
Through the years, I have directed many to your site. For their sake and mine,
I hope you will be able to continue providing this very important, very much needed, educational,
humorous, thought provoking work.
(an engineer in Missouri)
I am so glad I found your site. I love reading short blurbs about recent discoveries, etc,
and your commentary often highlights that the discovery can be interpreted in two differing ways,
and usually with the pro-God/Design viewpoint making more sense. Its such a refreshing difference
from the usual media spin. Often youll have a story up along with comment before the masses
even know about the story yet.
(a system administrator in Texas, who calls CEH the UnSpin Zone)
You are indeed the Rush Limbaugh Truth Detector of science falsely so-called.
Keep up the excellent work.
(a safety director in Michigan)
Just wanted to drop you a line to congratulate you on the 6th anniversary of Creation-Evolution headlines,
and to thank you once again for the laborious but necessary work that you do. I know of no better way to stay
informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand
many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.
Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!
(a grad student in particle physics)
I thank you for your ministry. May God bless you! You are doing great job effectively
exposing pagan lie of evolution. Among all known to me creation ministries [well-known organizations listed]
Creationsafaris stands unique thanks to qualitative survey and analysis of scientific publications and news.
I became permanent reader ever since discovered your site half a year ago. Moreover your ministry is
effective tool for intensive and deep education for cristians.
(a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach
countries across the former Soviet Union)
The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable. The objectivity of the editors is
admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists. The amount
of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I cant wait to see the next new
article each time I log on). Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary
goal of the people who run this website. Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent
dedication to the TRUTH.
(11 months earlier): I just completed reading each entry from each month. I found your site about
6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry
and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in
showing the unscientific nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.
(a medical doctor in Oklahoma)
Thanks for the showing courage in marching against a popular unproven unscientific belief system.
I dont think I missed 1 article in the past couple of years.
(a manufacturing engineer in Australia)
I do not know and cannot imagine how much time you must spend to read, research and
compile your analysis of current findings in almost every area of science. But I do know
I thank you for it.
(a practice administrator in Maryland)
Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, Ive
visited your site daily.... You
so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one
wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! ....
To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and
frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through
unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.
(an investment advisor in Missouri)
I really like your articles. You do a fabulous job of cutting through
the double-talk and exposing the real issues. Thank you for your hard
work and diligence.
(an engineer in Texas)
I love your site. Found it about maybe
two years ago and I read it every day. I love the closing comments in
green. You have a real knack for exposing the toothless claims of the
evolutionists. Your comments are very helpful for many us who dont know
enough to respond to their claims. Thanks for your good work and keep it
(a missionary in Japan)
Congratulations on the 6th anniversary! I just thought Id write and
tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary. Its
inspired a lot of thought and consideration. I check your listings every day!
(a computer programmer in Tulsa)
Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational
resource ... plus congratulations on your 6th anniversary, I wish you many more years of successful
(director of a consulting company in Australia)
Your insights ... been some of the most helpful not surprising considering the caliber of
your most-excellent website! Im serious, ..., your website has to be the
best creation website out there....
(a biologist and science writer in southern California)
I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is
consulted daily for the latest. I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate,
illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.
The archival structure is marvelous.... Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it
should be. Best regards for your continuing work and influence. Lives are being changed and
sustained every day.
(a manufacturing quality engineer in Mississippi)
I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines,
as well as your Creation Safaris site. I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day,
and that is still true! My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is
still at the top of my list! I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the
scientific journals out there; which I dont have the time to read myself. Your commentary is very,
very much appreciated.
(a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)
...just wanted to say how much I admire your site and your writing.
Youre very insightful and have quite a broad range of knowledge.
Anyway, just wanted to say that I am a big fan!
(a PhD biochemist at a major university)
I love your site and syndicate your content on my church website....
The stories you highlight show the irrelevancy
of evolutionary theory and that evolutionists have perpetual foot and
mouth disease; doing a great job of discrediting themselves. Keep up
the good work.
(a database administrator and CEH junkie in California)
I cant tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your
websiteits a HUGE asset!
(a lawyer in Washington)
Really, really, really a fantastic site. Your wit makes a razor appear dull!...
A million thanks for your site.
(a small business owner in Oregon and father of children who love your site too.)
Thank God for ... Creation
Evolution Headlines. This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate
over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the
deceived mindset of naturalism. The arguments presented are unassailable
(all articles having first been thoroughly baloney detected) and the
narrative always lands just on the right side of the laymans comprehension
limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who
have never thought to question the fact of evolution.
(a business owner in Somerset, UK)
I continue to note the difference between the dismal derogations of the darwinite devotees, opposed to the openness and
humor of rigorous, follow-the-evidence scientists on the Truth side. Keep up the great work.
(a math/science teacher with M.A. in anthropology)
Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!
I hope a book is in the works!
(a biology prof in Ohio)
I have enjoyed reading the sardonic apologetics on the Creation/Evolution Headlines section
of your web site. Keep up the good work!
(an IT business owner in California)
Your commentaries ... are always delightful.
(president of a Canadian creation group)
Im pleased to see... your amazing work on the Headlines.
(secretary of a creation society in the UK)
We appreciate all you do at crev.info.
(a publisher of creation and ID materials)
I was grateful for creationsafaris.com for help with baloney detecting. I had read about
the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought. Your comments were helpful and encouraged me
that my own baloney detecting skill are improving. I also enjoyed reading your reaction
to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your
comments on the proper way to question their teachers.
(a home-schooling mom)
I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website. Instead of being objective, the
website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory....
Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor? Or did God guide this evolution?
I dont know. But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God....
To deny evolution is to deny Gods creation. To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation,
but to better appreciate it.
(a student in Saginaw, Michigan)
I immensely enjoy reading the Creation-Evolution Headlines. The way you use words
exposes the bankruptcy of the evolutionary worldview.
(a student at Northern Michigan U)
...standing O for crev.info.
(a database programmer in California)
Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website! Although I
regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, Ive found that many of them do
not stay current with relative information. I love the almost daily updates to
your headlines section. Ive since made it my browser home page, and have
recommended it to several of my friends. Absolutely great site!
(a network engineer in Florida)
After I heard about Creation-Evolution Headlines,
it soon became my favorite Evolution resource site on the web. I visit several times a
day cause I cant wait for the next update. Thats pathetic, I know ...
but not nearly as pathetic as Evolution, something you make completely obvious with your snappy,
intelligent commentary on scientific current events. It should be a textbook for science
classrooms around the country. You rock!
(an editor in Tennessee)
One of the highlights of my day is checking your latest CreationSafaris creation-evolution news listing!
Thanks so much for your great work -- and your wonderful humor.
(a pastor in Virginia)
Thanks!!! Your material is absolutely awesome. Ill be using it in our Adult Sunday School class.
(a pastor in Wisconsin)
Love your site & read it daily.
(a family physician in Texas)
I set it [crev.info] up as my homepage. That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events....
I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines. I
tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.
(a systems analyst in Tennessee)
I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.
(a Swiss astrophysicist)
I enjoy very much reading your materials.
(a law professor in Portugal)
Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.
It has been a valuable resource for me.
(a medical student in Kansas)
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 weve incorporated your
site into our home education for our four teenagers. The Baloney Detector
is part of their Logic and Reasoning Skills course, and the Daily Headlines
and Scientists of the Month features are a big part of our curriculum for an
elective called Science Discovery Past and Present. What a wonderful
goldmine for equipping future leaders and researchers with the tools of
(a home school teacher in California)
What can I say I LOVE YOU!
I READ YOU ALMOST EVERY DAY I copy and send out to various folks.
I love your sense of humor, including your politics and of course your faith.
I appreciate and use your knowledge What can I say THANK YOU
THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH.
(a biology major, former evolutionist, now father of college students)
I came across your site while browsing through creation & science links. I love the work you do!
(an attorney in Florida)
Love your commentary and up to date reporting. Best site for evolution/design info.
(a graphic designer in Oregon)
I am an ardent reader of your site. I applaud your efforts and pass on
your website to all I talk to. I have recently given your web site info
to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science
teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...
(a health services manager in Florida)
Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about. A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information thats been going on. Now, Im simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search. Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day. Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there. The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement. Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that theyve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references. That helps me get a better picture of what youre talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.
(an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)
Im a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming. Were pretty
isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine. I read
it daily, and if theres nothing new, I re-read everything. I follow links.
I read the Scientist of the Month. Its the best site Ive run across. Our
local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.
(a newspaper editor in Wyoming)
have been reading your page for about 2 years or so....
I read it every day. I ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics
from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.
(a reader in Delaware)
I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day....
About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written
by a staunch anti-Creationist and it sparked my interest enough to research the
topic and within a week I was yelling, my whole lifes education has been a lie!!!
Ive put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.
Past that, through resources like your website...Ive been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the grassroots level drum up interest in the subject. And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.
(an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)
I love your site! I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, Ive found it. 2. You have balanced fun with this topic. This is hugely valuable! Smug Christianity is ugly, and I dont perceive that attitude in your comments. 3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover. 4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it. I really appreciate this.
(a computer technology salesman in Virginia)
I love your site. Thats why I was more than happy to
mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place
where..... Every Darwin-cheering news article is
reviewed on that site from an ID perspective. Then
the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed,
and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real
(a project manager in New Jersey)
Ive been reading your site almost daily for about three years. I have
never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.
(a 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 youre changing lives.
(a teacher in Spain)
I am grateful to you for your site and look forward to reading new
stories.... I particularly value it for being up to date with what is going on.
(from the Isle of Wight, UK)
[Creation-Evolution Headlines] is the place to go for late-breaking
news [on origins]; it has the most information and the quickest turnaround.
Its incredible I dont know how you do it.
I cant believe all the articles you find. God bless you!
(a radio producer in Riverside, CA)
Just thought I let you know how much I enjoy
reading your Headlines section. I really appreciate
how you are keeping your ear to the ground in so
many different areas. It seems that there is almost
no scientific discipline that has been unaffected
by Darwins Folly.
(a programmer in aerospace from Gardena, CA)
I enjoy reading the comments on news articles on your site very much. It is incredible
how much refuse is being published in several scientific fields regarding evolution.
It is good to notice that the efforts of true scientists have an increasing influence at schools,
but also in the media.... May God bless your efforts and open the eyes of the blinded evolutionists
and the general public that are being deceived by pseudo-scientists.... I enjoy the site very much
and I highly respect the work you and the team are doing to spread the truth.
(an ebusiness manager in the Netherlands)
I discovered your site through a link at certain website...
It has greatly helped me being updated with the latest development in science and with
critical comments from you. I also love your baloney detector
and in fact have translated some part of the baloney detector into our language (Indonesian).
I plan to translate them all for my friends so as to empower them.
(a staff member of a bilateral agency in West Timor, Indonesia)
...absolutely brilliant and inspiring.
(a documentary film producer, remarking on the
I found your site several months ago and within weeks
had gone through your entire archives.... I check in several times a day for further
information and am always excited to read the new
articles. Your insight into the difference between
what is actually known versus what is reported has
given me the confidence to stand up for what I
believe. I always felt there was more to the story,
and your articles have given me the tools to read
through the hype....
You are an invaluable help and I commend your efforts.
Keep up the great work.
(a sound technician in Alberta)
I discovered your site (through a link from a blog) a few weeks ago and I cant stop reading it....
I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story. If the evolutionists
blindness wasnt so sad, I would laugh harder.
I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University. When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, Im absolutely amazed.... Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily. Keep up the good work.
(an engineer in Virginia)
I stumbled across your site several months ago and have
been reading it practically daily. I enjoy the inter-links
to previous material as well as the links to the quoted
research. Ive been in head-to-head debate with a
materialist for over a year now. Evolution is just one of
those debates. Your site is among others that have been a
real help in expanding my understanding.
(a software engineer in Pennsylvania)
I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005
story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities. It was through your website
that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article. It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature. Thank you for all you have done!
(Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)
I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance. Why dont you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?...
Your website is a sham.
(a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003
entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary. This led to a cordial
interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy,
and resulted in an impasse over definitions but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.
He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution. He just claimed
evolution is a fact.)
I absolutely love creation-evolution news. As a Finnish university student very
interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science
stuff thats been happening you have such a knack for finding all this
information! I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from
your site many times.
(a student in Finland)
I love your site and read it almost every day. I use it for my science class and
5th grade Sunday School class. I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to
get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.
(a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)
I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week
or so going over every article in the archives. I thank you for such an informative
and enjoyable site. I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.
[Later] I am back to May 2004 in the archives. I figured I should be farther
back, but there is a ton of information to digest.
(a computer game designer in Colorado)
The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines...
the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!
(endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution
Check out this site: www.creationsafaris.com.
This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries,
commentaries and great links that are added to
dailyarchives go back five years.
(a reader who found us in Georgia)
I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at www.BornAgainRadio.com,
Ive added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.
(a radio announcer)
I cannot understand
why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.
Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?
Isnt it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, faith.
It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and
from bearing false witness.
Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, apostate Christian Natural/Scientific pantheist)
Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate
the job you are doing. God bless you all this coming New Year.
(from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)
Thanks so much for your site! It is brain candy!
(a reader in North Carolina)
I Love your site probably a little too much. I enjoy the commentary
and the links to the original articles.
(a civil engineer in New York)
Ive had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for
18 months now, and I can truthfully say that its one of the best on the Internet,
and I check in several times a week. The constant stream of new information on
such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and
humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring. Im pleased
that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to
producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.
(a community safety manager in England)
I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with
information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution. It gives me
ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom. I am tired of the evolutionary
dogma. I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.
(a science teacher in Alabama)
If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence
collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.
(a former Christian software distributor, location not disclosed)
...the Creation Headlines is the best. Visiting your site...
is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.
(a retired Air Force Chaplain)
I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it. I read
the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and
tell others about it. I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and
(a USF grad in biology)
Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because
of the excellent commentary I find. Because of the breadth and depth of erudition
apparent in the commentaries, I hope Im not being presumptuous in suspecting
the existence of contributions from a Truth Underground comprised of
dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers. If thats
not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized. Regardless,
I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards
us from the specialist as well as popular press.
(a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)
Im from Quebec, Canada. I have studied in pure sciences and after in actuarial mathematics.
Im visiting this site 3-4 times in a week. Im learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!
(a French Canadian reader)
I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.
(a reader in the Air Force)
You have a unique position in the Origins community.
Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.
You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.
(a pediatrician in California)
Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.
(a reader in western Canada)
I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.
It is truly a blessing!
(a reader in North Carolina)
I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website. I find
it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science
news daily) and also to research particular topics.
(an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)
I would just like to say very good job with the work done here,
very comprehensive. I check your site every day. Its great
to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the
pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the prestigious
(a biology student in Illinois)
Ive been checking in for a long time but thought Id leave you a
note, this time. Your writing on these complex topics is insightful,
informative with just the right amount of humor. I appreciate the hard
work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then
writing intelligently about them.
(an investment banker in California)
Keep up the great work. You are giving a whole army of Christians
plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).
Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not
scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney
for years and years.
(a reader in Arizona)
Keep up the outstanding work!
You guys really ARE making a difference!
(a reader in Texas)
I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that science is not
hostile towards religion. It is the dogmatically religious that are
unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their
dearly-held precepts. Science (real, open-minded science) is not
interested in theological navel-gazing.
Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in. Anonymous attacks
only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.
This one was shown to display a bad example.
I appreciate reading your site every day. It is a great way to keep
up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the
evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful
way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also
to research particular topics.
(an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)
I love your website.
(a student at a state university who used CEH when
writing for the campus newsletter)
....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly
well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.
Im sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much
about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you
skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not
(a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to
the 09/10/2002 headline)
I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of
exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant,
up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account
is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.
(a reader, location unknown)
You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper,
and digesting it into understandable terms.
(a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked
on the Manhattan Project)
After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru
your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate
the effort you have put forth.
The information is properly documented, and coming from
recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable. Your
explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY
to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate
interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the readers
(a reader in Michigan)
I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.
(reader location and occupation unknown)
I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let
you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!
We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have
the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.
Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the
Truth have not gone unnoticed. Keep up the great work!
(a PhD scientist involved in origins research)
You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.
The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it
requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and
to keep the reviews current.... I hope you can continue your
excellent Web pages. I have recommended them highly to others.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article
that will spark a spirited debate. Keep em
coming! The Truth will prevail.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
Thanks for your web page and work. I try to drop by
at least once a week and read what you have. Im a
Christian that is interested in science (Im a mechanical
engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.
I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.
(a year later):
I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which Ive probably done for a couple
of years. I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can
learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.
(a production designer in Kentucky)
I look up CREV headlines every day. It is a wonderful
source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of
discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of
scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.
Please keep it up. Your website is the best I know of.
(a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)
Ive written to you before, but just wanted to say again
how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.
I check it almost every day and often share the contents
(and web address) with lists on which I participate.
I dont know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful
for your energy and knowledge.
(a prominent creationist author)
I am new to your site, but I love it! Thanks for updating
it with such cool information.
(a home schooler)
I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your
brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those
who think themselves wise.
(a reader from Southern California)
I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media,
and enjoy your commentary immensely. I consider your web site to be the
most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.
(a reader from Ontario, Canada)
Keep up the good work! I thoroughly enjoy your site.
(a reader in Texas)
Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going. It is very
informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive
(a reader in North Carolina)
Great site! For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a
great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.
(a reader in the Netherlands)
Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.
For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the
Intelligent Design members....
(a PhD organic chemist)
opening a can of worms ... I love to click all the related links and
read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late
for something else. But its ALWAYS well worth it!!
(a leader of a creation group)
I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed
by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.
I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions
evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical
doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in
the discussion living systems and processes. Your website continually
reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the
existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable
(a medical doctor)
A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.
I told him CreationSafaris.com.
(a PhD geologist)
I love your site... I check it every day for interesting
information. It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but
now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all
their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.
(a college grad)
Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments
on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)
visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it. Great job!!!
(I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)
I like what I seevery
much. I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the
whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous
It is refreshing to read your comments. You have a knack to get to the heart of
(a reader in the Air Force).
Love your website. It has well thought out structure and will help many
through these complex issues. I especially love the
I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.
I really like your side-bar of truisms.
Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct. If I were a man of wealth, I would
support you financially.
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found
us on TruthCast.com.)
WOW. Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... Im utterly
impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy
as well as your faith.
(a mountain man in Alaska).
wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science
headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun
I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will
visit your site often daily when possible to gain the latest information
to use in my speaking engagements. Ill also do my part to help publicize
your site among college students. Keep up the good work. Your
material is appreciated and used.
(a college campus minister)
Featured Creation Scientist for June
1794 - 1866
What is a scientist? Why not ask the man
who invented the word? William Whewell (pronounced Hyool) coined the term
scientist as a replacement for natural philosopher in 1833.
He himself was a scientist and a philosopher and a theologian.
He had, furthermore, a most interesting interaction with Charles Darwin.
For centuries, most natural philosophers had been theologians, professors and amateurs.
By the 1830s, science was coming of age. A new class of career professionals
involved in the study of nature was arising. A new title describing these full-time investigators
of natural science was desired, and Whewells word scientist
stuck. He proved a clever wordsmith whenever fellow scientists needed a new term to
describe something they were investigating. For chemists like Michael Faraday,
he coined the words ion, anion, and cation; for physicists, the title physicist;
and for geologists, the term catastrophism
which he defended against the views of Charles Lyell, which he
called uniformitarianism. A respectful critic of Lyell,
Whewell pointed out the lack of evidence for his geological and evolutionary views.
William Whewell earned the title Second Wrangler in the formidable math tripo exams
at Cambridge. He remained a
leading Cambridge don in the decades that followed. A founding member
of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Royal Society, Whewell was in the inner
circle of the leading scientists of the day and was well respected by them.
Though twice married, he left no descendents when he died after falling from his horse
As a scientist, William Whewell had wide-ranging interests. He published work
on the tides, named the geological strata Eocene, Miocene, and Pliocene, was a professor
of mineralogy, and invented
the anemometer a device for measuring wind speed. He also dabbled in
mechanics, economics, architecture, history, poetry and astronomy this was surely
a period when a scientist could still
be a generalist! When not doing science himself, he was closely involved with those
working in the lab. He stimulated Faraday to perform key experiments.
Whewell is more remembered today, however, for his philosophy of science. His two leading works
on this important subject were History of the Inductive Sciences (1837) and The Philosophy
of the Inductive Sciences, Founded Upon Their History (1840, revised up to 1860). He saw himself as a renovator of
Francis Bacons method of induction. In this, he gave induction
a new meaning: it is not mere reasoning from objective facts that could be performed by a machine.
Instead, human creativity and presuppositions join with the observations in leaps of insight that
make scientific discoveries a mix of objectivity and creativity. For instance, elliptical orbits
did not jump out of Tychos observations; the genius of Kepler
was to creatively impose this as a solution to bring order out of the observations. This view has implications about
the objectivity of science. In an age when the aura of progress was
permeating British society, and when scientific knowledge was usually assumed to correspond directly to
external reality, Whewell put forward some surprisingly modern ideas that would cast doubt on
Whewell argued that science was a historical activity by the human mind. Its
truths, therefore, could change over time. He cast doubt on the strict
correspondence theory of scientific truth. Instead, he argued that scientific results are tentative
and are judged by their utility, not their inherent objectivity. In this,
his views differed sharply from those of the astronomer John
Herschel who, like Bacon, envisioned science as a march of progress toward the light of truth.
Whewell argued that the subjective human dimension of science can never be divorced from the
objective, because everyone operates with presuppositions. He called these fundamental
ideas and argued they are supplied by the mind itself not received from experience.
(These differed, however, from the intuitions of Immanuel Kant.)
As a consequence, scientific explanation is idea-laden not purely objective.
Though confirmation of a hypothesis can be strengthened by a consilience of inductions
from many angles, it is impossible to remove the human term from the equation.
For a summary of these views, see the Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Whewell. Of note for our purposes is this
excerpt: we are able to have knowledge of the world because the Fundamental Ideas which are
used to organize our sciences resemble the ideas used by God in his creation of the physical world.
The fact that this is so is no coincidence: God has created our minds such that they contain these same ideas.
Our ideas, therefore, are mere shadows of those in the mind of God. The late philosopher Greg Bahnsen has
further argued that a scientist needs Christian presuppositions to do science. Without the core
presuppositions of Christianity, science, rationality, and logic are impossible.
Regarding the issue of objectivity, therefore, Whewell is an important thinker in the long debate about the knowledge
problem in science: i.e., is scientific knowledge true with a capital T (something
that is universal, timeless, necessary, and certain), or is it just useful? To what extent are our scientific
musings reflections of what is out there in the world, and to what extent are
they constructions of our own minds? Is science discovery, or is it sophistry? Though as
old as ancient Greece, this debate has been waged through the centuries. It
flared up in the 20th century with increased intensity and remains unresolved.(1)
learn a simplified Baconian science of induction:
gather lots of observations, make generalizations, formulate a hypothesis, and test it with
experiments. This sounds so intuitively obvious few pause to question the assumptions involved.
It may be adequate to get a middle school student through a science project,
but a lot has happened since Bacon (and this short description of Baconian method does injustice to
Francis Bacons own views about science). It is far from clear that such a
method of science will lead to objective facts about the real world. Huge issues
have been raised between rationalists (who think science is an activity of the mind),
empiricists (who think scientific reasoning is limited to sense impressions), and others
who doubt the validity of induction, deduction, or the reliability of our senses at all.
Those interested in investigating these deep and critical issues in philosophy of science should listen to
two college-level lecture series from The Teaching Company,
Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It by Steven L. Goldman (Lehigh
University), and Philosophy of Science by Jeffrey Kasser (North Carolina State University).
Both of them mention William Whewell in this regard. Goldman points out that Whewell
emphasized the creative nature of scientific reasoning and discounted the ability of the
scientist to separate his reasoning from his ideology. In this, his views differed
sharply from those of John Herschel and John Stuart Mill, who both debated against Whewells
views, because they call into question the objectivity, and the ultimate rationality,
of scientific reasoning, theories, and knowledge claims (Goldman).
Whewell was ahead of his time with these ideas. For most of the 19th century and
early 20th century, objectivism and progressivism reigned supreme. Debates over these issues
erupted in a major way after World War II when logical positivism, an extreme belief in
scientific objectivity, collapsed. By the 1950s, its own adherents recognized
that logical positivism is inherently self-refuting and logically
untenable. Then when Thomas Kuhn published his work The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions in 1960, all hell broke loose. Charges and counter-charges flew between
scientists and philosophers. A plethora of books and articles were published. Paul
Feyerabend and others were almost reckless in their critiques of scientific reasoning.
In the 1990s, the social constructivists tossed even more fundamental
challenges against the objectivity of science. Some contended that science was a mere human tradition no
different in principle from the rites of savages. Much of this debate has cooled off for the time
being. Big Science has pretty much dominated the debate with a view of scientific
objectivity that is more enforced than warranted. The mainstream journals and scientific societies
make it sound self-evident that scientific
explanations, if not perfect, are the best we have for explaining the world (see
The wounds of the science wars, however, are still smarting. Knowledgeable scientists
realize they can no longer simply assume neutrality, objectivity, and correspondence with reality.
The ghost of Whewell is still with us, in other words. He warned scientists to be cautious about
their truth claims and to be cognizant of their presuppositions. There is more of a social and
historical element to scientific reasoning than most people realize.
Whewell was an Anglican clergyman almost all his life. One of his books argued against the
existence of extraterrestrial life, contrary to popular assumptions at the time. He also authored one of the eight
Bridgewater Treatises that were commissioned to demonstrate how scientific evidence supported
natural theology. His work, Astronomy and General Physics Considered with Reference to
Natural Theology, was published in 1833. Like many of the earlier natural theologians,
he argued that the study of the laws of nature gives us confidence in the existence, wisdom and goodness of the
Charles Darwin cited a quote from this work in the frontispiece of The Origin of Species
in an attempt to add credibility to his theory of natural selection. He quoted Whewell saying,
But with regard to the material world, we can at least go so far as thiswe can perceive
that events are brought about not by insulated interpositions of Divine power, exerted in each
particular case, but by the establishment of general laws. In Janet Brownes
extensive biography of Darwin, she claims that this quote was audaciously
taken out of context... suggesting that God worked through general scientific laws rather
than through direct intervention (Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, p. 80).
The clear inference is that Whewell would never have condoned what Darwin was implying.(2)
In fact, on page 107, Browne refers to a contemporary anecdote that Whewell refused to allow
The Origin in the Trinity College library. She mentioned this in a section about all the
sharply critical reviews of Darwins book that were circulating by men who were highly
regarded in their own fields.
The story of how Darwins book went from initial notoriety to calm acceptance within 10 years is
an important lesson in history of science a study that confirms Whewells own views
about the historical and social nature of scientific reasoning.
Whewell, of course, was well aware of the trends in thought during the Darwinian revolution.
In 1836 he had invited Darwin to be Secretary of the Geological Society.
Browne mentions that he was reading Lyells latest work on evolution and geology nearly 30 years
later in 1864. (Unfortunately, she does not discuss his response). Whewell clearly investigated
opposing views and did not hide himself from controversies that were raging. He was
also a consummate gentlemen (3). No fanatic,
he was learned, reasonable and cautious. But he was not a reductionist like Darwin.
Whewell criticized the view that nature could be reduced to particles in motion acted on by
impersonal laws. He believed that 18th century materialism was a failure, unable to account
for mans moral sense whether or not mans physical nature is similar to that
of the animals. And he criticized views of transformism (evolutionary common
ancestry) and uniformitarianism based on the evidence.
It is not clear to what extent Whewell defended the Bible, other than that he was an Anglican priest
(which implies very little). Much of his writing seems to focus on the undefined Artificer of the
natural theologian. Though we might wish in hindsight that he and other British scientific theists had been more adamant
in their criticisms of Darwin and defense of the Scriptures, they could not have foreseen the damage that would be done
in Darwins name in the 20th century. From Whewells writings, it does appear certain he
would have opposed the unquestioned dogmatism that characterizes much of Darwinian science today.
He would strongly dispute the warfare hypothesis between science and religion. And
he would recommend science as a means to glorify God and stimulate appreciation of His handiwork.
(1) Consider, as a simple example, Newtons ideas about space. Newton did not discover that
absolute space is uniform and unaffected by objects within it. These were stipulations of
his theory. It would be impossible to observe that space behaves this way, and as it turns out, Einstein
came up with a very contrary view, that space is affected by matter. Newton also stipulated concepts
like gravity, mass, and inertia without explaining (or empirically discovering) what these were. Later
physicists used the same words to mean different things. To what
extent are our concepts observed rather than assumed by definition? Saying that they produce useful formulas
is not a proof of scientific objectivity: it is utilitarianism.
(2) What Whewell said about natural law applies in general. Whewell was not addressing special creation
or the miracles in the Bible. Even the Bible itself (Genesis 8:22, Job 38:33, Ecclesiastes 3:1) speaks of the uniformity
of natural processes thats why miracles, when they occur, are so extraordinary and
generate astonishment. No reputable Bible-believing creationist has claimed that nature requires ongoing intervention
by God. They recognize He operates primarily through the natural laws He set up at the Creation.
It was a non-sequitur, therefore, for Darwin to take Whewells
statement and use it as support for an undirected, natural process leading from bacteria to man.
(3) Notice, for instance, Whewells gracious tone (despite disagreement) in an 1860 letter to
Darwin after receiving a copy of The Origin: I have to thank you for a copy of your book on
the Origin of Species. You will easily believe that it has interested me very much,
and probably you will not be surprised to be told that I cannot, yet at least, become a convert to
your doctrines. But there is so much of thought and of fact in what you have written that it
is not to be contradicted without careful selection of the ground and manner of the dissent, which
I have not now time for. I must therefore content myself with thanking you for your kindness.
(Emphasis added). Unfortunately,
Correspondence Project lists no subsequent letters between Darwin and Whewell.
If you are enjoying this series, you can
learn more about great Christians in science by reading
our online book-in-progress:
The Worlds Greatest
Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
A Concise Guide|
You can observe a lot by just watching.
First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
So will Darwinists.
Science is true. Dont be misled by facts.
Finagles 2nd Law
No matter what the anticipated result, there
will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c)
believe it happened according to his own pet theory.
3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
6. Do not believe in miracles rely on them.
Murphys Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
1. The bigger the theory, the better.
2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50%
of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence
with the theory.
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon
is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.
Peters Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.
Repetition does not establish validity.
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts not the facts themselves.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
Thumbs Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.
There is nothing so small that it cant be blown out of proportion
Hawkins Theory of Progress
Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is
wrong with one that is right. It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is
more subtly wrong.
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.
Error is often more earnest than truth.
Advice from Paul|
Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle
babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge by
professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
I Timothy 6:20-21
Song of the True Scientist
O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made
them all. The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever. May the
Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my
being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord. May sinners be
consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!
from Psalm 104
Through the creatures Thou hast made
Show the brightness of Thy glory.
Be eternal truth displayed
In their substance transitory.
Till green earth and ocean hoary,
Massy rock and tender blade,
Tell the same unending story:
We are truth in form arrayed.
Teach me thus Thy works to read,
That my faith, new strength accruing
May from world to world proceed,
Wisdoms fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.
James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).
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