Creation-Evolution Headlines
January 2008
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“The wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.... Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’?  Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?

“The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high.... He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”
— Isaiah, prophet in Jerusalem c. 740-700 BC.; Isa. 29:14,16; Isa. 33:5-6 (NIV).

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Explorer 1 Chief Discovers Design   01/31/2008    
On this day 50 years ago, America entered the space race.  On January 31, 1958, America gave its answer to Sputnik: a civilian satellite named Explorer 1.  Within a few hours of the time of day these words are being written, von Braun’s Jupiter-C rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida, successfully launched a JPL satellite into the night sky.  An eager team of JPL ham radio operators picked up the signal in Pasadena, California, confirming that the satellite had reached orbit.  Many are familiar with the iconic photograph of William Pickering, James Van Allen and Wernher von Braun hoisting a replica of the satellite in a victory press conference in Washington DC in the middle of the night as soon as the signal was verified (see image at JPL ).
    Explorer 1 is a great American success story.  It produced the first scientific discovery in space (the Van Allen radiation belts), prompted the formation of NASA, and marked the beginning of JPL’s epic exploration of the solar system.  Details on Explorer 1 can be found at a special feature at JPL.  A documentary film produced by the lab is being premiered today on HD Discovery Theater and PBS: for show times, see: JPL.1
    On the eve of the anniversary, Dr. Henry L. Richter, Jr. (PhD, Caltech), a design manager for Explorer 1, spoke to employees in the JPL Library about the mission.  Richter, the Group Supervisor of Explorer Design and Development, was responsible for the team that designed the satellite, its instruments and communications.  He also was among those who verified with ham radios that it had reached orbit.  Now 80 years old, his mind still sharp as a tack, he recounted details from the 1950s like it all happened yesterday.  With scientific acumen and engaging personal insights, he told the story of a fascinating time: how JPL had prepared a satellite before getting approval from President Eisenhower “just in case”, how he selected the instruments, how his team invented things that didn’t yet exist, how they tested delicate parts with shake tables and sun lamps for a space environment no one had yet experienced, how they tested the radio microlink relays in the desert, how they eavesdropped on the transmissions from Sputnik and Explorer with ham radio equipment, how he learned Russian in three weeks so that he could deliver a lecture in Russian about the mission to the International Geophysical Year convention in Moscow, and much more that made for a great story.
    As his talk was winding down, Dr. Richter turned to a bigger subject.  “So in conclusion,” he continued without breaking stride, “I’d just like to make one comment, that having been involved in all this, and somewhat of a scientific background, I’ve come to the conclusion that the earth and the universe are no accident of nature.  The way they’re put together is very specific to allow human life to exist on this earth – whether it’s the distance of the sun to the earth, it’s all the way it is to allow human life to exist.  And it’s according to a design, as far as I’m concerned.  And a design demands a Design-er.  And so someplace there’s a cosmic Designer that put it all together and made it work—call it God if you want.  And I decided I needed a relationship with that Designer.  I developed one late in life and my life has been drastically changed since then, and it’s been glorious.”
    The Van Allen radiation belts discovered by Explorer 1 were found to be essential for life on earth.  They capture deadly radiation from space and provide shielding for the inhabitants below.  Subsequent missions revealed that Mars lacks this protection (see 09/23/2006).
    Today at JPL, the 50th anniversary was celebrated outdoors, with the entire lab mingling over lunch with septegenarian and octogenarian veterans of the Explorer 1 days.  Dr. Richter was present sharing the limelight with a remarkable group of American heroes who laid the foundation for the peaceful exploration of space.


1.  Note: Dr. Richter appears in the film.  He spent many hours researching the timeline and details of the mission from almost-forgotten records and his own source material.  JPL’s media department, however, is responsible for the content in the film.  The documentary, while interesting and well done, gives a bad impression of Wernher von Braun.  Viewers should follow up the movie with a re-reading of our biography of the great rocket pioneer.
Word has it that a number of listeners congratulated Dr. Richter on the ending of his speech – and no one criticized it.  This suggests the presence of a silent majority eager to hear credible leaders speak out for creation.  The Darwinists might slink into the shadows if more distinguished scientists stood up and proclaimed the obvious: that our universe is not a cosmic accident, but was designed for life. 
Next headline on:  Solar SystemIntelligent DesignBible and TheologyMedia
Cool Tool:  Today, the Cassini Mission at JPL launched the Cassini at Saturn Interactive Explorer.  Download the application and drive a spacecraft around Saturn!  This interactive visual is worth a thousand words.  Based on real spacecraft telemetry from the Cassini orbiter, it’s a fun way to celebrate how far America has advanced in space in 50 years.  Science teachers will appreciate how it makes space, math and physics comprehensible.  Kids will love it; adults risk becoming addicted.  Rumor has it that a Christian was the principle designer of this software treat.  Play the Mission Overview; zoom and drag with the mouse, and have some fun.  Zoom in for a ringside seat.  Look down over the poles.  Look back at Earth from behind Saturn.  The “spacecraft view” is stunning.  This is not fiction; it really happens.  On the timeline you can watch what the spacecraft is doing right now.

A Step Closer to Gecko Adhesive   01/30/2008    
Scientists are getting closer to imitating the amazing wall-climbing ability of geckos.  Science Daily reports that a team from UC Berkeley manufactured tape with hard polymer fibers just 600 nanometers across that mimic the spatulae on gecko feet.
    This latest attempt at imitating the gecko works only on smooth, clean surfaces, but requires no pressure and resists sliding.  It lifts off easily and leaves no residue.  Both gecko feet and the new tape work by employing intermolecular forces called van der Waals forces that only become significant at close range.  The tiny fibers create a large surface area for these forces to act on.
    Next, the team wants to improve it so that it can work on rough or dirty surfaces and clean itself.  Geckos are still way out in front in this technology (01/04/2005).  Their spatulae, being much smaller (200 nanometers in diameter), resist contamination because large dirt particles are more likely to stick to the surface than to the foot.

It was only after 2000 that scientists began to understand the physics of gecko feet (08/27/2002).  Immediately, they set out to imitate them.  Products inspired by this technology will soon find wide application.  Science inspired by nature’s designs – biomimetics – is on the forefront of research that, unlike evolutionary theory, is poised to improve our daily lives.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyBiomimetics
  Evolutionists caught rationalizing adultery, from 01/08/2006.

Hidden Messages Found in DNA   01/29/2008    
DNA contains the language of life, but what would happen if someone found hidden messages in the genetic code?  Such a thing actually happened, reported the New York Times.  When Craig Venter’s lab produced an artificial organism, they inserted hidden “watermarks” into the genome: his name, the names of co-workers, and the name of the Venter Institute.
    Wired Science took up the puzzle and found the hidden messages.  The sequences of DNA translated into the letters for amino acids, which in turn spelled out English words.
    This was not the first genetic puzzle to be coded and deciphered.  The New York Times article said that in 2003, a German biotech company inserted a line from Virgil into the DNA for a laboratory plant.

No doubt Venter would be quite upset if children were taught in school that these messages evolved by random mutation and natural selection over millions of years. 
Next headline on:  GeneticsIntelligent Design
A Pitcher of Health, and Reasons to Love Slime   01/28/2008    
Pitcher plants contain chemicals that just might help medicine and agriculture, reported PhysOrg.  A Japanese team found a myriad of interesting proteins in this “evolutionary marvel,” a plant that eats insect meat.
    Now for some slimy good news.  PhysOrg said, “You know algae.  It’s the gunk that collects on the sides of a fish tank when you forget to clean it.  It’s the slime that makes you slip on rocks while crossing a stream.  You probably think of algae as a nuisance, if you even bother to think of it at all.”  How should you love slime?  Let me count the ways.  “Milt Sommerfeld and Qiang Hu [The Laboratory for Algae Research & Biotechnology, University of Arizona] think of algae as one of the most useful substances in existence.”
    Here are some of the slimy good things in your future: environmentally friendly fuel, pollution control, food, fertilizer, wastewater treatment and animal feed, among other things.  Algae can take wastewater or manure and convert it into environmentally-friendly biodiesel fuel.
    With their flasks and beakers full of green fluid, Sommerfield and Hu are excited about the prospects of harnessing these highly efficient, photosynthetic factories to produce environmentally green solutions to human problems.
    Another team is investigating a gene that relieves stress in plants, reported Science Daily.  Why?  It may lead to a cure for cancer.  Agricultural crops more resistant to environmental stress may also be in the offing.
    Scientists are still trying to harness the water-splitting power of bacteria to produce clean-burning hydrogen fuel.  They’re getting warmer, said a report in PhysOrg.  Five years ago (03/14/2003) and six years ago (10/08/2001), we reported how auto makers were envious of an enzyme called hydrogenase that splits water efficiently without the large expenditure of energy required in artificial processes.  Now, Thomas Wood of the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering is corraling barrels of genetically engineered E. coli to work their magic for mankind.  If his reactor can continue to increase its efficiency, you may someday drive a hydrogen car that produces water as waste and runs on sugar.
Good science seeks understanding of things with at least one tentacle on how it can help improve our lives.  Why reinvent solutions from scratch when many of them are literally right under our feet?  Think of something yucky around you – mold, maggots, cobwebs, slime – and there is probably a miracle product waiting to be discovered.  Forward-looking, productive science owes nothing to evolutionary theory.  The only “evolutionary marvels” are the professors who cling to a dead, useless ideology.
Next headline on:  BiomimeticsPlantsCell BiologyAmazing Facts
Horseshoe Crabs Unchanged Since Ordovician   01/28/2008    
A fossil horseshoe crab has been discovered in Canada that pushes back their origins at least 100 million years in the evolutionary timetable.  The previous record placed these marine arthropods in the Carboniferous (350 million years BP in the geologic column); others were known from the Jurassic.  “Both the Carboniferous and the Jurassic fossil discoveries indicate the ancient horseshoe crabs greatly resembled their modern-day counterparts,” said Live Science.1
    The article contains photos of the two nearly-complete specimens, which look like tiny versions of modern horseshoe crabs.  From head to tip of the tail, these are 1.5" long.  Modern ones can grow to 20".  The discoverers put it into a new genus, Lunataspis aurora, but were not sure if the small specimens were juveniles or adults.
    How do evolutionists deal with this example of extreme stasis, or lack of evolution, for hundreds of millions of years?  Comments in the article revealed the reaction: surprise, yet no loss of confidence in evolution or the timeline.
  • “We wouldn’t necessarily have expected horseshoe crabs to look very much like the modern ones, but that’s exactly what they look like,” [David] Rudkin [Royal Ontario Museum] said.
  • “This body plan that they’ve invented, they’ve stayed with it for almost a half a billion years.  It’s a good plan,” Rudkin told LiveScience“They’ve survived almost unchanged up until the present day, whereas lots of other animals haven’t.”
  • And whereas major extinction events have wiped even the mightiest, non-avian [sic] dinosaurs from our planet, this primitive-looking organism has come out unscathed.
  • “The horseshoe crab, the lowly little animal that crawls out of the sea every once in a while to mate, it’s survived for at least 445 million years in more or less the same form,” Rudkin said.
  • The specimens were so finely preserved, even the compound eyes and flexible chitin coating were visible.  “Chitin degrades over time,” the article states.  “For that reason, ancient specimens of horseshoe crabs have been sparse.”
    Update 02/01/2008: Science magazine, in its “Random Samples” feature,2 admitted these fossils are virtually identical to modern horseshoe crabs.  David Rudkin said these are the “quintessential ‘living fossils’ of biology textbooks.”  Another paleontologist said the common ancestor should exist somewhere in Cambrian.
    1.  An article from National Geographic News in 2002 (reported here 06/21/2002) claims that horseshoe crabs go back 500 million years, but did not cite any specific fossils.  If true, it pushes the horseshoe crab into the Cambrian.  Horseshoe crabs possess many similarities to those icons of the Cambrian explosion, the trilobites.
    2.  Random Samples, Science, Volume 319, Number 5863, Issue of 01 February 2008.
    Friends, you have just witnessed ideology driving belief to the point of absurdity.  This is why evolution gets falsified over and over and over again, and its adherents still refuse to admit defeat.  And this is not the worst example.  Remember the fossil ctenophores that look identical to modern ones, but were found fossilized in Cambrian strata 540 million years old? (04/03/2007).  The whole fossil record is replete with similar stories of extreme stasis (e.g., 12/26/2006, 11/15/2007 bullet 6, 04/23/2006).
        Notice that these specimens were already fully-equipped horseshoe crabs.  They were not primitive, transitional forms.  An evolutionist would have to infer that their ancestors existed far earlier, probably back in the Cambrian or before.  It’s probably only a matter of time that a Cambrian horseshoe crab will be discovered.  Trilobites, similar complex arthropods with jointed appendages and compound eyes, are well known Cambrian animals.  In any case, these fully-formed horseshoe crabs appear abruptly in the Ordovician strata without ancestors, with soft parts fossilized and undisturbed.  If they are juveniles, they could well be identical to modern species.
        The only explanation is that the millions of years in the evolutionary timetable are complete fiction.  These specimens are not hundreds of millions of years old.  That would be obvious to any impartial jury hearing all the evidence.  To admit that, though, would be tantamount to reclassifying Darwin’s little book from the science section to the storybook section – a fate too horrible for the Darwinists to imagine, so the faith goes on.
        But faith it is.  What shameless credulity allows these people to believe that delicate fossils like these sat in rocks half a billion years only to show up now, unchanged from living counterparts?  Think about how many generations that is (in their timeline).  There was ample opportunity for the inexorable forces of evolutionary change we are forced to learn about in school to have modified these spider-like animals – to have given them harder armor, lungs, snorkels, water wings or something to show for all that time.
        The claim that they invented a good body plan and stayed with it half a billion years is so ludicrous, all sensible people should rise up and laugh the Darwinists to shame.  If this were the only case it would be sufficient, but critics have been pointing out these anomalies since Darwin’s day, and nothing ever changes.
        So strong is the grip of the Darwin Party on institutional science, theirs is the only belief system too sacred to criticize.  By force of decree it has been labeled the “scientific” view of the world.  It and it alone is permitted to be taught as “science.”  All other explanations must be relegated to the religion class, where the pseudoscientists and clowns hang out.  Something is really rotten in this regime.
    Next headline on:  FossilsMarine Biology
      Geologists admit they were wrong about isochron dating methods, from 01/12/2005.

    Molecular Phylogeny Is a Mess of Uncertainty   01/26/2008    
    Genomes galore – a great opportunity to study evolution, right?  Think again.  A paper in Science by Wong et al1 revealed systematic uncertainty in the way genomes are compared, leading to bias that makes genetic comparisons essentially useless.  Antonis Rokas, in the same issue,2 began his commentary on this problem thus:

    Darwin relied on fossils, morphology, and geographical distribution to glean important clues about the history of life.  Today, natural historians can study organisms’ history of change and adaptation by probing the DNA record.  Whether to elucidate evolutionary relationships of genes and species or spot the amino acid changes driven by selection, we need to be able to generate accurate alignments of DNA sequences.  On page 473 of this issue, Wong et al.1 provide some important caveats on how this can go awry and how to avoid alignment bias.
    Rokas continued with a folksy explanation of the basic problem:
    For years, the standard protocol has been to pick a favorite algorithm to optimize the alignment it generates.  This approach is fast and easy, but it is like being forced to always settle on vanilla ice cream for dessert; doing so can taint one’s opinion about ice cream.  Similarly, sticking to the use of a single alignment from a single algorithm can bias the estimation of phylogenies or of other evolutionary parameters pivotal to our understanding of the DNA record.  Until now, the extent and potential significance of this bias introduced by alignment was unknown.  Wong and colleagues quantify the contribution of alignment uncertainty to genome-wide evolutionary analyses and report that we sweep this uncertainty under the proverbial rug at our peril.
    Wong and team used seven popular programs to compare seven genomes.  “The term ‘popular’ is not used lightly here,” Rokas notes; “these programs have been employed, judging by citation counts, in at least 25,000 analyses.”  The potential for revision, therefore is enormous.  What did the researchers find? 
    They report that a staggering 46.2% of the genes examined exhibit variation in the phylogeny produced dependent on the choice of alignment method, whereas the prediction of the amino acid changes driven by selection was likewise method dependent for another 28.4% of the genes.
    The significance of this “whoops” admission cannot be overstated.  For years, evolutionary biologists have depended on the “popular” algorithms to generate phylogenetic trees, expecting their results to be reliable.  Rokas explains that high “bootstrap” values for some trees (a popular index that is supposed to measure robustness in inference) can be misleading, because “bootstrap values do not always equate with phylogenetic accuracy.”  But if the bootstrap value is strong, what is in error – the signal or the phylogenetic inference?  Rokas did not explore the latter possibility.
        Wong et al explain how researchers can fall into the trap by trusting algorithms that cannot bear the weight of inference placed on them:
    A common theme in comparative genomics studies is a flow diagram, or chart, tracing the various steps and algorithms used during the analysis of a large number of genes.  Flow charts can be quite sophisticated, with steps such as identifying orthologous gene sets, aligning the genes, and performing different statistical analyses on the resulting alignments.  The key point, and a great practical difficulty in comparative genomics studies, is that the analyses must be repeated many times.  The procedure, then, is largely automated, with scripting languages such as Perl or Python cobbling together individual programs that perform each step.  In addition, many of the individual steps involve procedures originally developed in the evolutionary biology literature, to perform phylogeny estimation or to identify individual amino acid residues under the influence of positive selection.  Statistical methods that until recently would have been applied to a single alignment, carefully constructed, are now applied to a large number of alignments, many of which may be of uncertain quality and cause the underlying assumptions of the methods to fail.
    This seems to indicate another problem: the very algorithms trusted were written on the assumption of evolution.  Is there a circularity here?  Will the algorithm select the data that will produce the expected evolutionary result?  They did not elaborate.
        The authors state that the uncertainty is not just a matter of sloppy analysis.  A biologist may run the program with great care and precision.  It’s trusting the algorithms themselves, and being unaware of the uncertainties, that leads to huge errors and false conclusions.  They explain how this can happen:
    Many comparative genomics studies are carefully performed and reasonable in designHowever, even carefully designed and carried out analyses can suffer from these types of problems because the methods used in the analysis of the genomic data do not properly accommodate alignment uncertainty in the first place.  Moreover, the genes that are of greatest interest to the evolutionary biologist probably suffer disproportionately.  For example, in several studies, the genes of greatest interest were the ones that had diverged most in their nonsynonymous rate of substitution.  But, these are the very genes that should be the most difficult to align in the first place.  We also do not believe that the alignment uncertainty problem is one that can be resolved by simply throwing away genes, or portions of genes, for which alignment differs.
    In fact, throwing out portions that have ambiguous alignments can lead to other problems, such as removing a large portion of the primary data.  It also does not guarantee the remainder will line up well.
        Rokas has a good-news-bad-news story.  On the hopeful side, “several novel statistical methods that simultaneously estimate alignment and evolutionary parameters of interest such as phylogeny have shown exceptional promise,” he said.  The bad news is there’s a catch: “The computational demands of these programs are prohibitive.”
        Wong et al suggested some ways to mitigate alignment bias.  No matter the quality control used, though, carefulness is not going to solve all the problems.  “The goal is to analyze all of the genes in the genome,” they said.  “As we have shown here, many of these genes will be difficult to align and result in highly variable evolutionary parameter estimates.”  They did not seem to explore the possibility of circular reasoning in the algorithms.
        Wow.  This is going to be a shattering revelation to many a biologist.  Rokas put the best possible spin on a bad situation:
    As in any scientific field, molecular evolution has a long tradition of dramatic transformation.  The development of a powerful computational and statistical arsenal to account for the uncertainty stemming from sequence alignments is heralding the first paradigm shift in the era of genome-scale analysis.
    Now, the question is what to do about the 25,000 erroneous papers, and how long it will take to overcome the inertia of thousands of scientists continuing to use the popular algorithms oblivious to their inherent uncertainties.
    1.  Wong, Suchard and Huelsenbeck, “Alignment Uncertainty and Genomic Analysis,” Science, 25 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5862, pp. 473-476, DOI: 10.1126/science.1151532.
    2.  Antonis Rokas, “Lining Up to Avoid Bias,” Science, 25 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5862, pp. 416-417, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153156..
    This shouldn’t be news.  A team of scientists reported six years ago that building phylogenetic trees with any realistic measure of reliability was mathematically impossible (07/25/2002).  Evolutionary biologists have to make assumptions and take shortcuts to get results.  Because the algorithms are built on evolutionary assumptions (e.g., what constitutes positive selection, or what constitutes maximum likelihood or a parsimonious solution), the whole exercise is circular.  Don’t think for a minute that a computer program built by evolutionists for evolutionists is going to generate bias-free, objective, neutral “facts of science.”  They is a-huntin' for Darwin’s trees, and Darwin’s trees is what they gonna get.
        This paper is not likely to make much of a dent.  Life will go on, because “tree-thinking” is inscribed with an iron stylus on the evolutionary biologist’s brain (11/14/2005).  It influences everything he thinks and does.  Besides, the importance of bashing down the creationists with mountains and mountains of scientific evidence for evolution is too important for a little bit of error, say 75% or more, to hinder the mission.  With Darwin Day coming, the show must go on!
    Next headline on:  GeneticsDarwinian Evolution
    Leslie Orgel’s Last Testament:
    Pigs Don’t Fly, and Life Doesn’t Just Happen
       01/26/2008    

    A veteran origin-of-life researcher died last October: Leslie E. Orgel of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.  Orgel had co-authored Origins of Life on the Earth (1973) with Stanley Miller, the man whose spark-discharge experiment launched the modern origin-of-life craze in the 1950s (05/02/2003).  Orgel worked in the field for decades and was familiar with all the different approaches.
        Apparently Orgel was working on an essay when he died.  Gerald Joyce [Scripps Institute], who wrote a eulogy to Orgel in Nature last November (11/29/2007) submitted Orgel’s manuscript to PLoS Biology.  It was published posthumously this week on January 22.  Origin-of-life [OOL] researchers will not find much encouragement in Orgel’s last scientific will and testament.  It bears careful reading, however, coming from someone who spent a lifetime working on and thinking about chemical evolution.
        The essay is entitled, “The Implausibility of Metabolic Cycles on the Prebiotic Earth.”  The caption states, “In this essay, the final contribution of his scientific career, Leslie Orgel explores the severe difficulties that arise when these proposals are scrutinized from the standpoint of chemical plausibility.
        To understand his critique, the reader should be aware that OOL research bifurcated into two disparate approaches in the 1990s.  The “genetic” party, endorsed by Stanley Miller, Leslie Orgel, Jeffrey Bada (06/14/2002), Steven Benner (11/05/2004) and others, looks for prebiotic macromolecules able to carry genetic information: DNA, RNA, PNA (12/17/2005), TNA and other candidates.  The newer “metabolic” party is less ambitious than to expect such complex polymers to arise naturally.  They propose that self-sustaining cycles of simpler compounds might arise, to be “co-opted” later by information-storing RNA and DNA.  Champions of this approach have included Gunter Wachterschauser, Michael Russell (12/03/2004), Harold Morowitz (03/23/2005), Stuart Kauffman (05/09/2006), and Robert Shapiro (02/15/2007).  Robert Hazen gave it good press in the Teaching Company lecture series Origins of Life while comparing and contrasting both schools of thought and describing them as somewhat spirited and adamant rivals.
        While Orgel might be expected to be partial to the genetic school, his final criticisms of the field are broad enough to raise serious concerns about the ability of natural processes to produce life at all by any method.  Combining this essay with Shapiro’s devastating critique of genetic approaches last year (q.v., 02/15/2007), it seems that both approaches, like warriors in close combat, have both given and received mortal wounds, falling down together.
        Orgel was not entirely dismissive of the metabolic approach on theoretical grounds.  Indeed, he said, “If complex cycles analogous to metabolic cycles could have operated on the primitive Earth, before the appearance of enzymes or other informational polymers, many of the obstacles to the construction of a plausible scenario for the origin of life would disappear.”  No obstinacy here; he would welcome such a discovery.  It’s the implausibility of metabolic scenarios that, to him, render them useless in the real world.  Scenarios cannot be merely clever and imaginative.  They have to obey the laws of chemistry.  They need to be experimentally demonstrable.
        Orgel’s essay is open for public reading.  He stated, “The main purpose of this Essay is to examine the plausibility of these and some related hypothetical nonenzymatic cycles.  Could prebiotic molecules and catalysts plausibly have the attributes that must be assigned to them in order to make the self-organization of the cycles possible?”  Those without an organic chemistry background can wade through the jargon and decipher his main criticisms:
    1. Could is not good enough:  “It must be recognized that assessment of the feasibility of any particular proposed prebiotic cycle must depend on arguments about chemical plausibility, rather than on a decision about logical possibility.”  To claim a chemical reaction is possible does not mean it will ever happen.  What are the specific reactants?  How efficient are they?  Researchers must present ideas that are chemically plausible, not just possible.
    2. Paper is not good enough:  “It is a catalytic cycle in which a complicated sequence of enzymatic reactions is used to bring about indirectly a reaction that looks simple on paper, but is not easily achieved in practice.”  A researcher needs to think about chemical cofactors required, and the possibility of damaging cross-reactions, for instance, or whether reactions in a cycle are likely to proceed in a realistic time frame.
    3. Time is not enough:  A metabolic cycle on the primitive earth may have had eons longer to work than a chemist in a lab.  “However, the identification of a cycle of plausible prebiotic reactions is a necessary but not a sufficient step toward the formulation of a plausible self-organizing prebiotic cycle.”
    4. Where are the exits?  Every step in a metabolic cycle needs to be efficient enough to keep the whole cycle going.  “The cycle could not survive if side reactions funneled off more than half of the cycle components irreversibly, because then the concentration of the cycle components would decline exponentially to zero.
    5. Weakest link breaks the chain:  A researcher might be able to propose that each step in a metabolic cycle, say the 11 steps in the reverse citric acid cycle, is plausible in a prebiotic environment.  “However, the reactions are not independent because each reaction is pulled toward completion by the use of its product as the input for the subsequent reaction of the cycle.” 
    6. Don’t forget thermodynamics:  Because reactions are reversible, it is likely the input of a step will be depleted.  “Whatever the original input, one would finish with an equilibrium mixture, the composition of which is determined by thermodynamics.”  Equilibrium means you are at a standstill and nothing more will happen.
    7. Not all reactions are created equal:  Orgel lists seven reactions in the reverse citric acid cycle (one popular scenario for a self-organizing metabolic scenario) that are completely different.  “The reverse citric acid cycle involves a number of fundamentally different kinds of chemical transformations,” he said; “At the very least, six different catalytic activities would have been needed to complete the reverse citric acid cycle.”  What would this require: six different environments on the early earth?  This “could be argued, but with questionable plausibility,” he remarked.
    8. Beware of thieves:  Damaging side reactions are often more likely to occur than the desired ones.  Orgel gives examples, such as difficult carboxylation reactions.  “This reaction would move material irreversibly out of the cycle, so one must postulate a specific catalyst that discriminates between succinic and malic acid.”
    9. Inspectors required:   Biological enzymes in living cells are experts at discriminating between similar substrates.  The same cannot be assumed in a prebiotic environment: “One needs, therefore, to postulate highly specific catalysts for these reactions.  It is likely that such catalysts could be constructed by a skilled synthetic chemist, but questionable that they could be found among naturally occurring minerals or prebiotic organic molecules.”
    10. Minerals are not enough:  Clay surfaces and other substrates have been popular ingredients in metabolic cycle scenarios.  The necessary reactions might occur on these natural lab tables, they say.  Orgel discusses two leading scenarios.  “While the details of the two proposals are different, the difficulty of achieving all of the required reactions while avoiding all of the likely side reactions seems at least as formidable” in both of them.
    11. Hand-waving is not enough:  Orgel criticizes a recent proposal by Wachtershauser that describes self-organization by “metabolic reproduction, evolution, and inheritance by ligand feedback.”  Suggestive words.  “Unfortunately he never explains, even in outline, how this mechanism could lead to the synthesis of the aminoacyl-nucleotide conjugates that seem to be an essential feature of the proposal.”
    12. One example is not enough:  “The only autocatalytic cycle that has been demonstrated experimentally is that involved in the formose reaction—the polymerization of formaldehyde to give a notoriously complex mixture of products, including ribose, the organic component of the backbone of RNA.”  Well, this must be the path to explore!  Indeed, researchers have explored this path since it was discovered in the 19th century.  Is it the holy grail?  Not exactly; the mix must be seeded with certain impurities to get started, and “Despite some successes, it is still not possible to channel the formose reaction in such a way as to produce ribose in substantial yield.”
          Ribose, of course, is one of the most difficult essential parts of RNA to imagine forming on the prebiotic earth – especially in the presence of water (see Benner, 11/05/2004).  The proposed hopeful cycles, unfortunately, produce a host of other unhelpful reaction products.
    13. Simple is not enough:  Orgel begins a section on “Cycles and the Evolution of Complexity.”  Assume a cycle begins.  That does not mean that complexity will evolve.  “A cycle ... does not seem capable of evolving in any interesting way without becoming more complex.”  The scenarios that suggest a substantial amount of “information content” will emerge from a simple cycle, with genetic macromolecules coming in late to add stability, are little more than “intuitions” – not schemes that can be examined critically.
    14. Variation is not enough:  Suggesting that a change in temperature or concentration is a form of evolution is a play on words.  For instance, “one could not usefully claim that the dependence of the rate of a reaction such as ester hydrolysis on reaction conditions is a form of evolution.”  At some point you have to add complexity to the picture.  “The evolution of any substantial additional complexity of a cycle, therefore, must depend on the appending of further reaction sequences to those present in the core cycle.”
    15. The law of diminishing returns:  “Given the difficulty of finding an ensemble of catalysts that are sufficiently specific to enable the original cycle, it is hard to see how one could hope to find an ensemble capable of enabling two or more.”  The further the scenario gets from the original simple cycle, the more the problems arise.  Orgel has heard many proposals in his career.  None of them “explains how a complex interconnected family of cycles capable of evolution could arise or why it should be stable.
    Orgel spent several paragraphs dismantling Kauffman’s mathematical proposal for a peptide cycle, which is interesting to read for those with an appetite for details.2  Even more interesting are some off-the-cuff remarks he made that, like an overheard microphone in wartime, reveal weaknesses to the enemy:
    • By faith:  The discovery of a feasible, evolvable cycle would be a real breakthrough, but...
      What is essential, therefore, is a reasonably detailed description, hopefully supported by experimental evidence, of how an evolvable family of cycles might operate.  The scheme should not make unreasonable demands on the efficiency and specificity of the various external and internally generated catalysts that are supposed to be involved.  Without such a description, acceptance of the possibility of complex nonenzymatic cyclic organizations that are capable of evolution can only be based on faith, a notoriously dangerous route to scientific progress.
    • By intelligent design:  You can get fantastic experimental results if you add design to the equation:
      Ghadiri and his coworkers have demonstrated experimentally that peptide cycles of the type envisaged in Kauffman’s theory are possible.  They first showed that peptides of length 32 that have been carefully designed to self-associate to form stable coiled-coils will facilitate the ligation of their N-terminal and C-terminal subsequences.  This shows that the self-replication of peptides is possible.  In later work they demonstrated the self-organization of networks of ligation reactions when more than two carefully designed input peptides are used.  These findings, however, cannot support Kauffman’s theory unless the prebiotic synthesis of the specific 15mer and 17mer input peptides from monomeric amino acids can be explainedOtherwise, Ghadiri’s experiments illustrate “intelligent design” of input peptides, not spontaneous self-organization of polymerizing amino acids.
      Those words must surely sting in the ears of researchers trying to avoid the D word design.  He presses the point: can these long chains necessary for autocatalytic cycles form spontaneously?  In several paragraphs, he explains why not.  The short answer invokes words that sound like Dembski’s criterion of specified complexity for design: “Clearly, self-organization requires catalysis that is not only sufficiently efficient but also sufficiently sequence-specific.

    • Let us bow our heads;  No worship leader, Orgel pauses to marvel at how life does what it does:
      The catalytic properties of enzymes are remarkable.  They not only accelerate reaction rates by many orders of magnitude, but they also discriminate between potential substrates that differ very slightly in structure.  Would one expect similar discrimination in the catalytic potential of peptides of length ten or less?  The answer is clearly “no,” and it is this conclusion that ultimately undermines the peptide cycle theory.”
      For a few more paragraphs, Orgel entertained various attempts to rescue Kauffman’s theory.  Alas; “Even if such systems exist, their relevance to the origin of life is unclear,” he said mercifully.  “It is unlikely, therefore, that Kauffman’s theory describes any system relevant to the origin of life.”
    In the conclusion of the essay, Orgel laid down the rules that all origin-of-life researchers must obey: in a phrase, get real.  “In view of the importance of the topic, it is essential to subject metabolist proposals to the same kind of detailed examination and criticism that has rightly been applied to genetic theories.”  (Here he referred to critiques by Shapiro; cf. 02/15/2007).  At least the genetic theorists, like himself, have a “substantial body of experimental work” in their resumes.  Orgel let the storytellers have it between the eyes:
    Almost all proposals of hypothetical metabolic cycles have recognized that each of the steps involved must occur rapidly enough for the cycle to be useful in the time available for its operation.  It is always assumed that this condition is met, but in no case have persuasive supporting arguments been presented.  Why should one believe that an ensemble of minerals that are capable of catalyzing each of the many steps of the reverse citric acid cycle was present anywhere on the primitive Earth, or that the cycle mysteriously organized itself topographically on a metal sulfide surface?  The lack of a supporting background in chemistry is even more evident in proposals that metabolic cycles can evolve to “life-like” complexity.  The most serious challenge to proponents of metabolic cycle theories—the problems presented by the lack of specificity of most nonenzymatic catalysts—has, in general, not been appreciated.  If it has, it has been ignored.  Theories of the origin of life based on metabolic cycles cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own.
    Orgel tried to soften this blow with suggestions that plausible cycles might some day be discovered, for instance around hydrothermal events, and these deserve further investigation.  “It is important to realize,” however, “that recognition of the possible importance of prebiotic syntheses that could occur hydrothermally does not necessitate a belief in their ability to self-organize.
        In the final paragraph, the final words of his final essay, he generalized to all kinds of origin-of-life theories.  You need pure building blocks to get polymers that might replicate themselves.  You need to sift the good from the bad in the complex mixtures that result from experiments.  “No solution of the origin-of-life problem will be possible until the gap between the two kinds of chemistry is closed.”  Then, he uttered his last scientific writing with the most stinging words of all, aimed at the whole OOL community:
    Simplification of product mixtures through the self-organization of organic reaction sequences, whether cyclic or not, would help enormously, as would the discovery of very simple replicating polymers.  However, solutions offered by supporters of geneticist or metabolist scenarios that are dependent on “if pigs could fly” hypothetical chemistry are unlikely to help.
    Rest in peace, Dr. Orgel.
    1.  Leslie E. Orgel, “The Implausibility of Metabolic Cycles on the Prebiotic Earth,” Public Library of Science: Biology, 6(1): e18, Jan 22, 2008, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060018.
    2.  Kauffman’s model depends on peptides growing to a certain length that can autocatalyze one another.  Orgel shows additional factors that would be required, reducing the plausibility of his hypothesis, which is more mathematical than experimental to begin with.  Kauffman misunderstands the thermodynamics of peptide bond formation.  He thinks amino acids will be plentiful and will spontaneously form long polypeptides, Orgel complains, “In practice, this would not happen.”  In fact, the need for coupling agents becomes a problem for all origin-of-life theories that depend on the formation of polypeptides or polynucleotides.  The problem “could only be avoided by proposing a series of monomers, such as aminoaldehydes, that polymerize spontaneously, but the difficulty of finding a prebiotic synthesis of suitable monomers then becomes severe.”
    Ouch!  Or should we shout, Amen!  What a way to go.  No more spark-discharging simple gases for him.  Orgel has just tased everyone in the OOL community with shocks of realism.  Does it get any better than this?
        We spent a lot of time on this entry because of its significance.  Evolution’s theory of the origin of life is the fulcrum on which the entire evolutionary worldview rests, like an inverted pyramid at the tipping point.  The news media, and children’s textbooks, make it all look so easy.  NASA repeatedly insinuates that the mere presence of water on some planet or moon means that life can’t be far behind.  For over 50 years now, textbooks have been decorated with Miller’s spark-discharge experiment, that useful lie, that icon of the Darwin Party propaganda machine (05/02/2003).  The propaganda has deceived the public into thinking scientists have essentially solved the puzzle of the origin of life, and God is out of business.
        Orgel has been in the thick of actual OOL research and, thank God, did not lose his scientific realism completely like so many of the others have.  Practically on his deathbed he has preached a final hellfire sermon against researchers who substitute imagination for reality, faith for experimentation.  He reprimated those who unscrupulously insert that foreign, despised, prohibited ingredient into their equations: intelligent design!  You may go speculate about flying pigs, Orgel says, but don’t claim that by doing so you are doing science, or helping the evolution movement.
        Read this article, then read Shapiro’s critique of the genetics-first approach (02/15/2007).  Here you have two champions both collapsing in the ring with fatal wounds.  Creationists and Intelligent Design debaters need do nothing but show the tape.  The evolution advocates have falsified each other, the flying pig circus tent has collapsed, and the pyramid has tipped toward intelligent design, never to point toward evolution again.
        Thanks for hanging in there with this long entry.  We just thought our readers would like to know what the silly TV shows and kiddie books aren’t telling you.  As Porky (the flying) Pig always ended his Looney Tunes, “Th-Th-Th-That’s all, folks!”  Cartoons are over.  Get off the couch, go outside, and have a great day in the real world – the world of Creation.
    Next headline on:  Origin of Life
    The Geologists Were Wrong   01/25/2008    
    More examples of collapsing theories have appeared in the literature this week (compare last week, 01/21/2008):
    1. Dirty Comet:  The Stardust spacecraft that collected comet samples in 2006 was so named because it was believed comets contained pristine material from the birth of the sun.  That has all changed.  National Geographic News summarized a paper in Science1 that expressed a real surprise: Comet Wild 2 was as dirty as an asteroid, and had earth-like composition.  “The first surprise was that we found inner solar system materials, and the second surprise was that we didn’t find outer solar system materials,” remarked one researcher.  Richard Kerr, writing in Science,2 said they didn’t even find one speck of unaltered, presolar material.
          But then, how could this comet retain volatile gases at all if it spent much time close to the sun?  “It’s coming apart like crazy at its present distance,” said principle investigator Donald Brownlee.  And where are the pristine remnants of the early solar nebula – if they exist at all?  The entire field of comet studies is up in the air.  “For those of us who study presolar materials, it’s turned out to be a bit of a bust,” said a team member.  “It’s changing the way we think about comets.”  See also PhysOrg, which quoted a researcher saying, “I think this is science in action.  It’s really exciting because it’s just not what we expected.”  If science is constantly being surprised by the unexpected, to what degree can scientists claim they are making progress?
    2. Farewell to Mantle Plumes:  The textbook case of a mantle plume is the Hawaiian Island chain.  According to theory, it floats over a “hot spot” in the crust where deep mantle material is rising.  The evidence on which this has been based, isotopic signatures of osmium and other elements, is now found to be flawed.  According to a paper in Science,3 the signatures are too heterogeneous to constrain the theory.  All the isotopic signatures could be accounted for by processes occurring in the upper mantle, not deep mantle plumes.
          Anders Meiborn, in the same issue of Science,4 called it the “rise and fall of a great idea.”  He listed four major observational inconsistencies with the long-held belief.
          The finding also affects theories about undersea lava.  “The concept of isotopic ‘anomalies’ in oceanic basalts thus has to be applied with extreme care,”he warned.  “Indeed, with an upper mantle as heterogeneous as the data by Luguet et al. suggest, it is difficult to imagine that isotopic signatures in oceanic basalts can be uniquely tied to the outer core.”
    In addition, Science contained an entertaining article by Richard Kerr about the geologic time scale.5  Ever hear of the Quaternary period?  The name is in the midst of a tug-of-war between geologists who want to keep the name on the charts, and those who want to scrap it in favor of Lyell’s term Pleistocene.  Some are surreptitiously sneaking the name out in their books and charts, but others who like the old name aren’t about to let them get away with it.
        Changing the time scale means adjusting other names, cutting and pasting, and moving periods around.  Old books and charts risk going obsolete.  This is too upsetting for some geologists.  Some want a battle, some want compromise.  The article reads like a day at the academic wrestling ring.  Sample:
    Some geologists are incensed.  “All of a sudden they want to move [the Pleistocene] down 800,000 years,” says marine geologist Lucy E. Edwards of the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia.  “Why?  ‘Because we want it.’  It upsets the stability of the nomenclature without a good scientific reason.  Many more marine geologists working in the Pleistocene would be completely discombobulated.
    If the name Quaternary disappears from the books, did it ever exist in the rocks?  That’s a debate for humans.  They are the ones who have a penchant for classifying things.
    1.  Ishii et al, “Comparison of Comet 81P/Wild 2 Dust with Interplanetary Dust from Comets,” Science, 25 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5862, pp. 447-450, DOI: 10.1126/science.1150683.
    2.  Richard A. Kerr, “Where Has all the Stardust Gone?”, Science, 25 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5862, p. 401, DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5862.401a.
    3.  Luguet et al, “Enriched Pt-Re-Os Isotope Systematics in Plume Lavas Explained by Metasomatic Sulfides,” Science, 25 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5862, pp. 453-456, DOI: 10.1126/science.1149868.
    4.  Anders Meiborn, “The Rise and Fall of a Great Idea,” Science, 25 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5862, pp. 418-419, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153710.
    5.  Richard A. Kerr, “A Time War Over the Period We Live In,” Science, 25 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5862, pp. 402-403, DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5862.402.
    We must constantly be reminded of the difference between brute facts and the fallible names and explanations humans impose on them.  What if the whole schemes about the earth’s core, the evolution of the solar system, and the geologic time scale were wrong?  Would it be determined by the brute facts?  How would fallible humans know?  The earth is the same, and the comet is the same, but human concepts have undergone multiple revolutions in the last few centuries.
        Sometimes the very names we impose on things drive our conceptions of what they are.  Truths of reality are not obligated by human nomenclature, group consensus or majority vote.  Paradigm shifts may be more indications of erratic movement, not progress toward The Truth.
    Next headline on:  GeologySolar SystemDating Methods
      Intelligent design paper published by the National Academy of Sciences!  Really?  You be the judge: see 01/26/2005.

    Do Chicks Tell Dinosaur Tales?   01/25/2008    
    For years, evolutionary biologists have battled over the origin of flight.  Did dinosaurs run along the ground and take off, or did they jump from trees?  The first idea is called the cursorial hypothesis; the latter, the arboreal hypothesis.  In 2003, Ken Dial [U Montana] had an idea: maybe watching partridge chicks could inform the debate.  This month his approach made the journal Nature.1
        Dial’s team videotaped chukar partridges from hatching to adulthood, and noticed their flapping behavior.  As chicks, they hold out their undeveloped forelimbs and appear to use them as stabilizers when running up slopes and over obstacles.  By the time they have grown up, this behavior has “evolved” into full flapping flight.  The evolutionary history of flight unfolded before his eyes:

    Based on our results, we put forth an ontogenetic-transitional wing (OTW) hypothesis for the origin of flight.  The hypothesis posits that the transitional stages leading to the evolution of avian flight correspond both behaviourally and morphologically to the transitional stages observed in ontogenetic forms.  Specifically, from flightless hatchlings to flight-capable juveniles, many ground birds express a ‘transitional wing’ during development that is representative of evolutionary transitional forms.  Our experimental observations reveal that birds move their ‘proto-wings’, and their fully developed wings, through a stereotypic or fundamental kinematic pathway so that they may flap-run over obstacles, control descending flight and ultimately perform level flapping flight (Fig. 1).  The OTW hypothesis provides a simple adaptive argument for the evolution of flight and can be tested and observed in extant fledglings.  This hypothesis differs from other published accounts in that it is flap-based (in contrast to requiring a gliding precursor), involves an aerodynamically functional proto-wing, incorporates both the simultaneous and independent use of legs and wings and assumes that a fundamental wing-stroke (described herein) was established for aerodynamic function early in the bipedal ancestry leading to birds.
    This explanation, the team thinks, overcomes limitations in both previous hypotheses.  The cursorial hypothesis fails to explain why “no extant species uses its wings to run faster, to secure prey or run–glide.”  The arboreal hypothesis has to “assume a gliding form was prerequisite to flapping flight because half a wing would have no function, and that the flap-stroke appears too complex and thus relegated to the derived [i.e., flying] condition.”  The new OTW hypothesis overcomes these pitfalls, he claims, by finding functions all the way up from running with outstretched forelimbs to full “fledged” flight.  If this recaptures the evolution of flight, it answers the question, “what use is half a wing?”
        Science news reporters took up this hypothesis with triumphant fanfares: “Secrets of bird flight revealed” (BBC News), “All in a flap: New evidence of how birds took to flight” (PhysOrg).
        Is there any fossil support for the transition from running with outstretched forelimbs to flight?  The paper did not refer to any fossils directly: only to “extinct taxa, such as the recently discovered fossil forms possessing what is assumed to be ‘half a wing’ and long cursorial legs” – but a check of the references showed only the 2004 paper about tyrannosaurids with unidentified skin filaments (10/06/2004) which may in fact have been flayed collagen fibers, not feathers (01/09/2008), and a paper co-authored by Dial about Microraptor gui which appears to have been an odd bird capable of flight (see 03/27/2007).  The “long cursorial legs” referred to a year-2000 paper about Caudipteryx, now thought by many to be a flightless bird within the class Aves, not a dinosaur.  None of these fossils appears pertinent to their hypothesis.  One was a dinosaur in the T. rex family.  Obviously, T. rex did not use its diminutive forearms for stabilization or flight!  The other two were probably feathered birds already capable of powered flight.  In short, the paper provided no fossil support and was based entirely on the behavior of modern true birds during their development.  The so-called “ontogenetic transitional wing hypothesis” rests entirely, therefore, on a hunch that this behavior supplies indirect indications of a presumed evolutionary history.
    1.  Kenneth P. Dial, Brandon E. Jackson and Paolo Segre, “A fundamental avian wing-stroke provides a new perspective on the evolution of flight,” Nature advance online publication 23 January 2008, doi:10.1038/nature06517; Received 20 August 2007; Accepted 27 November 2007; Published online 23 January 2008.
    Ken Dial has been pushing this fictional plot for five years now.  Our comments about his highly-speculative and unsupportable hypothesis, which rated the “dumb” award, bear re-reading (01/16/2003, 12/22/2003, 05/01/2006).  He claims it is testable – but only on living birds that already have the genetics for flying.  This is absurd.  It amounts to nothing more than job security for storytellers (12/22/2003 commentary).  Instead of repenting in shame, now he has added the Haeckel fallacy to it (to be explained shortly).
        Dr. Dial is apparently fond of chukars.  That’s fine.  If he wants to go hunting for them, or even videotape them to understand their wing function, great.  No problem.  But when he tries to weave an evolutionary tale about the ancestry of flight, he is way, way off scientific course.  He is flapping Icarus wings in Fantasyland.  Nothing like a little sunlight of scrutiny to melt them, sending his ideas crashing down.
        Over a century ago, Darwin-worshiper Ernst Haeckel promoted a similar idea.  He thought the evolutionary history of animals was preserved in their embryonic development: a human embryo replayed its evolutionary history by going through a worm stage, a fish stage, and finally a mammal stage.  This was dubbed the “Recapitulation Theory” and later was exalted into a law of nature, the so-called Biogenetic Law, by Haeckel.  Darwin himself considered it the most powerful evidence of his theory.  So strong was Haeckel’s belief and commitment to Pope Charlie, he notoriously doctored embryo drawings to support his pet hoax.
        Haeckel may have seemed the mild-mannered Jekyll, but his ideas led to a Hyde of terror.  The Recapitulation Theory led to all kinds of social mischief, as described in articles by ICR and AIG.  Scientific racism, Freudian psychology, and abortion trace their ancestry to Haeckel’s myth.  Today, it is almost completely discredited by scientists, even evolutionary biologists.  Why should an animal retain any genetic memory of presumed ancestors and play them out on an embryonic stage?  Stephen Jay Gould was appalled by the idea.  He dismantled the “biogenetic law” mercilessly in his books, announcing that it is, and should be defunct.  Dr. Keith Thompson (Yale) said it went extinct in the 1920s and, as a scientific theory, is dead as a doornail.
        Someone needs to inform Dr. Dial that his revival of recapitulation theory is embarrassing.  How can a living bird weave tales about dinosaurs evolving flight?  The whole notion is crazy.  Does Dr. Dial not realize that chukar partridge chicks have DNA for flight in every cell of their bodies?  Regardless of how they get about before they grow strong enough to fly, how on earth can he presume to think that their behavior as chicks tells anything about some mythical evolutionary past?  Where are the fossils?  Where are the modern reptiles holding out their forelimbs in a series of transitions leading to powered flight?
        This is not science; it’s divination.  When he looks into the crystal ball (the video screen) of chicks running up a ramp with forelimbs outstretched, the trance comes.  Visions appear in his mind.  He is transported mentally into a swamp 150 million years in the mythical past.  Behold!  A theropod stretches out its forelimbs and escapes the predator bearing down on him.  OK; cut, time out.  Turn off the video playback and turn the lights back on.  Unless a random genetic mutation in the dino’s gonads helped its offspring run faster with outstretched forelimbs, significantly faster enough to make the slower guys die off, he has concocted a Lamarckian tale.  This phony idea, which Dial has been preaching for five years at least, is Lamarckian, progressivist, and Haeckelian.  It’s against the neo-Darwinist official party line.
        Why, then, is Nature giving this crackpot idea the time of day?  Here’s why: all’s fair in love and war, and policy notwithstanding, any weapons that can be used against creationists, even old duds and lies, are fair game.  This dud is dressed up in new jargon and fancy acronyms, but it won’t fly.  If you want a shekel for your Haeckel, Dr. Dial, no sale.  To sound convincing, rather than experiment with living birds that already have flight software, chase down some lizards until they take off into the air.  Go experiment on the Geico gecko and see if holding out his forelimbs will help him fly some car insurance policies.  Better yet, give up on evolutionary biology altogether.  Do something useful with your life, like hunting some chukar meat for dinner, or marketing your videotapes to showcase the beautiful design of wings in these handsome birds.  Then we will stop laughing.
    Next headline on:  BirdsDinosaursEvolutionDumb Ideas
    Getting a Hand on Facts and Meanings   01/24/2008    
    What could be more simple than pressing a button with your finger?  That “seemingly trivial action is the result of a complex neuro-motor-mechanical process orchestrated with precision timing by the brain, nervous system and muscles of the hand.”  So says a press release from University of Southern California posted on EurekAlert.
        Simple, everyday acts we perform without thinking: cracking an egg, typing on a keyboard, fastening a button, fumbling with a cell phone to answer a call – all require a sophisticated coordination and messaging system between the brain, the nervous system and 30 muscles of the hand.  Francisco Valero-Cuevas of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering commented, “we don’t understand well what a hand is bio-mechanically, how it is controlled neurologically, how disease impairs it, and how treatment can best restore its function.”
        In an effort to begin to understand, Valero-Cuevas and Madhusudhan Venkadesan, a mathematician from Cornell, measured electrical activity of the muscles of the hand when students simply pressed a surface with a forefinger.  Seven muscles of the forefinger clearly switched from a “motion” mode to a “force” mode 65 milliseconds before impacting the surface.  “Venkadesan’s mathematical modeling and analysis revealed that the underlying neural control also switched between mutually incompatible strategies in a time-critical manner.”  This is a “neurally-demanding” transition even for such a trivial act.  The brain must be planning the transition ahead of time, because there is a finite amount of time required to activate the muscles.  “Neurophysiological limitations prevent an instantaneous or perfect switch,” Valero-Cuevas said, “so we speculate that there must be specialized circuits and strategies that allow people to do so effectively.”  Imagine, he said, going through life with winter gloves on.  That’s how life would be without these systems.  Our ability to perform fine manipulation of objects with our fingers is a result of many parts working together in precise ways.
        What does all this mean?  For one thing, it explains why it takes years of training for children to master precision skills with their fingers like pinching and manipulating objects, and why these skills can be lost with neurological diseases and aging.  “But perhaps even more importantly,” he said, “the findings suggest a functional explanation for an important evolutionary feature of the human brain: its disproportionately large sensory and motor centers associated with hand function.
        Valero-Cuevas marched seamlessly from observations in the present to speculations about prehistory. 
    If, indeed, the nervous system faced evolutionary pressures to be able to anticipate and precisely control routine tasks like rapid precision pinch, the cortical structures for sensorimotor integration for finger function would probably need to be pretty well developed in the brain,” Valero-Cuevas said.
        “That would give us the neural circuits needed for careful timing of motor actions and fine control of finger muscles,” he said.  “Thus, our work begins to propose some functional justifications for the evolution of specialized brain areas controlling dexterous manipulation of the fingertips in humans.”
        The article was also posted by Science Daily on Jan. 28.
    The article changed subjects at this point and talked about possible medical applications of their biomechanical research.  For some reason this story was unreachable on the USC website.  The title was present, but the link was broken.
    For three sins of USC, and for four, the reprimand due these scientists will not be turned back.  (1) Disjunction: There is no connection between the observed facts and their evolutionary story.  They made it up out of thin air with hand-waving and magic.  (2) Misrepresentation: It misrepresents evolutionary theory.  Needs to do not produce complex structures.  “Evolutionary pressures” do not “give” the “neural circuits needed” to provide precision switching and control of 30 muscles to perform fine manipulations of objects.  The only evolutionary pressure is the one to go extinct.  Unless random mutations appear, the pressure is toward death, not emergence of complex, interacting systems.  (Good luck waiting ten to the quintillion years for that to happen.)  (3) Deception: By presenting an evolutionary explanation as incontrovertible fact, they are lying to the public and their students.  What they saw was engineering design, not evolution.  OK, strike three; but since creationists are longsuffering and merciful, one more chance.  Whoops: (4) Ingratitude: Can any sin be more egregious than to be handed a gift, like two hands and ten fingers, and then to use them against the Giver?
        The observational facts of science do not support evolutionary storytelling.  You saw it just now.  These researchers looked at raw, empirical evidence for fine-tuned complexity, and even admitted they don’t understand it, but then immediately leaped into Fantasyland to claim with brashness and confidence that it evolved.  They get away with it because that is all they have ever been trained to believe, and critics are systematically expelled from the discussion.  Philosophers who should be blowing the whistle on these unwarranted assertions are too often cowed into timidity by the temerity of the Darwin Party.
        Until scientists realize that such philosophical inferences are unfounded – that they are contrary to the purpose and reasoning of science – the debate over creation and evolution will be muddled in noise.  It is not the job of the scientist to invent a tale about a mythical past he cannot observe even in principle.  Stick to the facts.  Get a grip.  Press here.  Then, and only then, can people with sense discuss what the facts mean.
    Encore:  To reinforce the conviction that brain/hand coordination could never have evolved, listen to a recording of Vladimir Horowitz playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.  Horowitz performed nearly 30 minutes entirely from memory, over a huge dynamic range with such rapid-fire precision it is incredible to conceive of the brain signaling involved.  Can you imagine a chimpanzee doing this?  Or composing such a thing?  For a sample, here is part of the second movement on YouTube.  You absolutely must hear the third and final movement.  Here is a taste on YouTube, which, unfortunately, stops before the grand finale.  A poorer-quality video that includes the ending can be found at truveo.com.  If you liked these, here’s another fast finger frolic.  How about one more?  Go ahead, Charlie; tell me about evolution.
    Next headline on:  Human BodyAmazing FactsEvolutionDumb Ideas
    Nuke Sand, Get Life   01/23/2008    
    Glowing sand was your cradle, claimed The Telegraph.  “The sifting and collection of radioactive material by powerful tides could have generated the complex molecules that led to the evolution of carbon-based life forms –including plants, animals and humans.”
        The article acknowledged that “radiation may seem an unlikely candidate to kick-start life because it breaks chemical bonds and splits large molecules,” but thought some of the energy could be used productively.  Radioactive grains in the sand could provide the chemical energy to build sugars, amino acids and soluble phosphates needed for life as we know it.
        This scenario is the brainchild of Zachary Adam, an astrobiologist at the University of Washington.  His idea can “be added to the existing long and varied list of hypotheses.”  Reporter Nick Fleming listed the usual suspects: Oparin, Miller, the clay hypothesis, panspermia, “and the intervention of a divine, intelligent designer.
        The article is accompanied by a picture of humans at the beach.  No claim was made whether the energy from sunlight was helping them evolve.
    Somebody else needs a kick-start.  At least intelligent design wasn’t excluded from the list of possibilities this time.  It’s the only contender that isn’t deaf, dumb, blind and lazy from the starting gate.  (Clarification: speaking of the hypotheses, not their proponents).
    Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDumb Ideas
      La Brea tar pits trap evolutionists, from 01/24/2004.

    Life Influences Dating Method   01/22/2008    
    The rate of calcium carbonate precipitation can double if microbes are present, says an article in PhysOrg.  Scientists studying hot spring deposits in Yellowstone made this “surprising discovery about the geological record of life and the environment.”  The article adds, “Their discovery could affect how certain sequences of sedimentary rock are dated, and how scientists might search for evidence of life on other planets.”
        The travertine terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone can grow millimeters per day.  The precipitation can actually “more than double” when microbes are present, the article said.  Calcium carbonate is the most abundant mineral in the rock record.
        The scientists believe that inferences about the presence of life can be drawn from studying the rate of deposition.  “Separating biologically precipitated calcium carbonate from non-biologically precipitated calcium carbonate is difficult,” however.  Inferences about life would also require independent knowledge about the rate of deposition.  They believe they can tease this information out from the chemistry, based on “the environmental and ecological context of the rock being studied.”

    The important observation here is that previous trusted assumptions about most common sedimentary rock were off by more than a factor of two.  What other assumptions are still unquestioned that will be overturned in the future?  Other questions: What will this do to cave formation dating methods?  Will they change the textbooks within the next decade?  How can they rightfully infer the presence of life from a precipitation rate on a planet where no life has been found, when other unknown factors could influence the rate?  How come geologists never apologize for the misinformation they spread?
    Next headline on:  Dating MethodsGeology
    Butterfly Wings Flash Shiny Optical Tricks   01/22/2008    
    You can get brilliant colors without pigment if you build patterns near the wavelengths of light.  Butterflies have the trick down to a science.  Their wings shimmer and shine with brilliant colors produced by nanostructures that scientists want to imitate.
        Science Daily told how butterflies and moths, even the white-winged varieties, use nanostructures to produce brilliant colors and brighter whites.  Marco Giraldo, a new PhD at the University of Groningen, has made understanding the optical principles his project.  Scientists still do not understand exactly how the nanostructures work; for instance, they do not know how precise wavelengths are absorbed, and others reflected.  “Giraldo is the first to clarify how the colour of these butterflies is influenced by the nanostructural characteristics.”  His research has already turned up some design marvels:
    Giraldo also discovered that the wings of [Cabbage] Whites are constructed in a surprisingly effective way.  Both sides of the wings have two layers of overlapping scales that reflect light.  The more scales there are, the more light is reflected.  This light reflection is very important as butterflies want to be seen. Giraldo discovered that these two layers form an optimal construction: with more than two layers the reflection may be improved, but the wing would become disproportionately heavy.
    Surprisingly, the males and females absorb UV light differently, allowing the sexes to recognize one another.
        Young fashion-conscious teens may be the beneficiaries of this research.  “It may be possible to apply the nanostructures observed in butterflies to create impressive optic effects in paint, varnish, cosmetics, packaging materials and clothes,” the article ended.  “Industry is thus following butterfly wing research with great interest.”
    Much great scientific work is being done without any reference to Darwin and his Tinker Bell tale.  The Darwiniacs are wrong to think the US will fall behind in science unless his bacteria-to-man story is taught as fact.  On the contrary; unlatching the old ball and chain will be liberating to the real scientists.
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
    Backtracking on Darwinian Claims   01/21/2008    
    Evolutionary theory evolves.  Since Darwinists no longer consider evolution progressive, it follows that evolutionary theory is also not necessarily progressing.  The following stories show evolutionary biologists backtracking on earlier claims.
    1. The pig is falling.  “Darwinian evolutionary theory proposes that the phenotype of a creature is an adaptation to the particular demands of the ecological situation in which it evolved,” wrote Geraint Rees [University College, London] in Current Biology.1  That’s what he intended to show in a report on a study suggesting humans are attracted more to animal motion than inanimate motion.2  He had to acknowledge, however, that a completely different, non-Darwinian interpretation is possible.  This led to him joking about why pigs don’t have wings:
      This suggests that the ability to detect change in animate objects represents a heritable trait that reflects implicit information about the external structure of the environment in which humans evolved, an intriguing possibility.  But while intuitively appealing, caution is required before accepting such an argument.  Jerry Fodor has recently argued that phenotypes do not always represent implicit information about the environment in which they evolved.  Instead, sometimes phenotypes simply reflect internal constraints on the functional organisation of that animal.  For example, Fodor suggests that the reason pigs do not have wings is less to do with the intrinsic structure of the environment that pigs inhabit, and more to do with the fundamentals of how the pig is constructed.  The lack of wings does not by itself carry any intrinsic information about the pig’s natural environment, and has not been selected against in the course of porcine history!
      In that case, there is no information about pig or human evolution to be gained from the study at all.  The findings about human propensity to pay attention to animal motion, instead, “provide important insights into the organisation of the human visual system,” he said, though he still held out hope that adding natural selection to the equation might inform the “discovery of the psychological architecture of human cognition.”
    2. Platypus granddaddyNews@Nature examined the case of the ancient platypus (see 11/27/2007).  The bones of an apparent platypus 20 to 80 million years older than thought is causing confusion among evolutionary paleontologists.  Timothy Rowe, the discoverer, concluded “It looks like the monotremes may have had a really slow evolutionary history.”  Why the vast array of mammals underwent dramatic transformations in far less time, according to the Darwinian timeline, leaves a mystery why the platypus remained virtually unchanged.  “Rowe thinks the creatures probably didn’t need to evolve because their hunting abilities were so fine-tuned,” the report said.  This begs the question of why other predators with similarly fine-tuned hunting skills lack the evolutionary stasis, or why the platypus’s prey did not evolve so as not to be hunted so effectively.
          The contrary explanation, that this was not a platypus fossil at all, but rather a remnant of a common ancestor of platypus and echidna, requires invoking convergent evolution.  A platypus-specific canal found in the skull would have had to evolve twice, once before the split, and once again after the split.  The illustration caption simply reads, “Older than we thought.
          The paper by Timothy Rowe et al in PNAS3 states the conundrum in scientific jargon:
      Morphology suggests that Teinolophos is a platypus in both phylogenetic and ecological aspects, and tends to contradict the popular view of rapid Cenozoic monotreme diversification.  Whereas the monotreme fossil record is still sparse and open to interpretation, the new data are consistent with much slower ecological, morphological, and taxonomic diversification rates for monotremes than in their sister taxon, the therian mammals.  This alternative view of a deep geological history for monotremes suggests that rate heterogeneities may have affected mammalian evolution in such a way as to defeat strict molecular clock models and to challenge even relaxed molecular clock models when applied to mammalian history at a deep temporal scale.
    3. Predators and unintended consequences:  The simple view is that predators kill prey, leading to prey that try to reproduce faster in greater numbers – a direct effect of evolutionary ecology.  A study with small fish called killifish that inhabit streams in Trinidad showed scientists a more complex view.  In addition to direct effects of predation, there are indirect effects that may be just as important: for instance, the availability of food after prey are reduced by the predators.  The whole community is restructured by reintroduction of predators.  “Since predator-induced indirect increases in resource availability are common in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the evolutionary consequences of these interactions are potentially a very important component of evolutionary change in nature,” said David Reznick, coauthor of the study.  “Moreover, biologists have observed evolutionary change occurring on short ecological timescales in nature, on the order of a few years to decades, suggesting that such interactions are contributing to overall ecosystem functioning and health.”  The changes he described, however, are microevolutionary changes to existing structures, not innovations.  If microevolutionary restructuring of ecological communities can be witnessed in mere decades, it adds to the conundrum of why the platypus remained unevolved for 100 million years.
    4. Black sheep in Darwin’s family:  Fitness is supposed to help you gain the upper hand in the race to survive, but the fitter black sheep of Scotland are dying out.  Why?  A study in Science4 found that fitness can work against you.  Dark coat color is correlated to larger body size, “which is heritable and positively correlated with fitness,” the research team said.  “This unexpected microevolutionary trend is explained by genetic linkage between the causal mutation underlying the color polymorphism and quantitative trait loci with antagonistic effects on size and fitness.”  The finding makes evolutionary inference more difficult.  “This result demonstrates the importance of understanding the genetic basis of fitness variation when making predictions about the microevolutionary consequences of selection.”  The article began, “The evolutionary changes that occur over a small number of generations in natural populations often run counter to what is expected on the basis of the heritability of traits and the selective forces acting upon them.”  When a scientist can’t expect what evolution will do, can Darwin really claim to have discovered a law of nature?
    5. Papa Neanderthal:  It seems the story of our relationship to Neanderthal Man is back and forth.  An article in the Australian News explains the problem: “For more than 150 years, a debate has raged over the origins of modern humans.  The main body of scientific thought says modern humans migrated from Africa and then overwhelmed their more primitive European counterparts, the heavy-browed Neanderthals, or inter-bred with them.  But growing credence is being given to the theory that homo sapiens [sic] evolved from the Neanderthals, who mysteriously died out some 28,000 years ago.”  So no one seems to know what the relationship was.  That did not stop the author from titling the report, “Bad weather helped evolution.”
    6. Tree trimming:  Darwin’s tree of life just lost a branch.  “The Tree of Life must be re-drawn, textbooks need to be changed, and the discovery may also have significant impact on the development of medicines,“ began an article in Science Daily.  New research by European biologists who compared 5000 genes in “the largest ever genetic comparison of higher life forms on the planet” now lumps brown algae and silica algae together.  “Previously, these species were thought to be completely unrelated,” the article states.  The article ended on a triumphal note that researchers are making progress toward understanding evolution.  Puzzles remain, however: “To make the picture a little less clear, one branch of chromalveolates is still in no man’s land,” claimed one researcher.
    7. Mammal disconnect:  The molecular and fossil stories about mammals don’t agree; see Geotimes for discussion.  Watch this space.  (That’s all there is to watch for now.)
    8. More than a chimp:  Be thankful for your DNA repair genes; they are unique.  An article in EurekAlert said, “researchers were surprised to find the acquisition of functional response for certain genes involved in DNA metabolism or repair to be mostly unique in humans.”  Some of the genes were shared with chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys; none were shared with mice.  The researchers wove their findings into an evolutionary story, but admitted, “the full implications of these evolutionary points remain far from clear....”
    9. The new buzz:  Remember the old story?  The one about the meteorites that killed the dinosaurs?  Scratch that.  It was bugs.  The new story can be found at The Guardian, which says, “Forget the meteorites – it was insects that did in the dinosaurs.”  This can be considered true till the next revision.  Hold the presses!  Maybe it was acid rain, reported EurekAlert.  But then again, that old Chicxulub meteor did make a mighty big splash, say the Longhorns.

    1.  Geraint Rees, “Vision: The Evolution of Change Detection,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 8 January 2008, Pages R40-R42.
    2.  For a similar claim by others, see the 01/07/2008 entry.
    3.  Rowe et al, “The oldest platypus and its bearing on divergence timing of the platypus and echidna clades,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print January 23, 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0706385105.
    4.  Gratten et al, “A Localized Negative Genetic Correlation Constrains Microevolution of Coat Color in Wild Sheep,” Science, 18 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5861, pp. 318-320, DOI: 10.1126/science.1151182.
    Translating Timothy Rowe’s jargon into colloquial English (blue quote in bullet #2 above), he said, “We’ll, I’ll be.  Shore looks like a platypus.  How come all its brethren evolved all over the place while he just sat there?  Musta been stuck in a Darwinian rut somehow.  Better tell my geneticist buddies their clocks are runnin’ super-fast and super-slow all at once.  The clocks musta e’en forced this little guy to evolve in slo-mo!  Whatever.  We KNOW dem bones is 120 million years old – that’s a fact, even if the clock is outta whack.”
        Darwinism is the perfect playground for science fiction writers (that is, evolutionary biologists).  You never have to be right; you just have to look busy.  You can tell creative stories, then celebrate when they are overturned later.  The more complex the plot, the better.  You have no threat of criticism because your critics have been expelled and put behind a sound-proof barrier.  You get free checking for making reckless drafts on the bank of time (07/02/2007).  The peasants don’t revolt, because they have been hypnotized into thinking what you are working on is science.  Ah, the life of a Chaldean soothsayer.  It was bliss before Daniel showed up.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryMammalsGeneticsDinosaurs
      Does microevolution add up to Darwin’s grand tree of life?  Only if you change the rules of science, from 01/15/2004.

    The Evolution of Morality   01/20/2008    
    Can morality evolve in Darwin’s universe?  Steven Pinker, evolutionary psychologist at Harvard, is just the man to ask.  He wrote an 8-page article for the New York Times about it, facing the issues with frankness and forthrightness.
        To Pinker, as with other evolutionary psychologists, the “moral” behind morality is an evolutionary artifact of psychological choices and behaviors that have evolved over millions of years.  Populations choose what is right or wrong based on shared and habitual patterns that aid survival.  Pinker justified his scientific amorality on the grounds that scientists are just trying to be objective observers:

    Science amoralizes the world by seeking to understand phenomena rather than pass judgment on them.  Secular philosophy is in the business of scrutinizing all beliefs, including those entrenched by authority and tradition.  It’s not surprising that these institutions are often seen to be morally corrosive.
        And “morally corrosive” is exactly the term that some critics would apply to the new science of the moral sense.  The attempt to dissect our moral intuitions can look like an attempt to debunk them.  Evolutionary psychologists seem to want to unmask our noblest motives as ultimately self-interested – to show that our love for children, compassion for the unfortunate and sense of justice are just tactics in a Darwinian struggle to perpetuate our genes.  The explanation of how different cultures appeal to different spheres could lead to a spineless relativism, in which we would never have grounds to criticize the practice of another culture, no matter how barbaric, because “we have our kind of morality and they have theirs.”  And the whole enterprise seems to be dragging us to an amoral nihilism, in which morality itself would be demoted from a transcendent principle to a figment of our neural circuitry.
    So Pinker is certainly aware of the criticisms of the “new science of the moral sense,” but blames them on misunderstanding of the “logic of evolutionary explanations.”  Evolutionists don’t believe that “selfish genes” are really selfish, he says; the phrase is merely an anthropomorphism to describe appearances in behavior shaped by the process of natural selection.
        The first half of Pinker’s article concerned itself with moral dilemmas and taboos, and results of neuropsychological tests on twins and on people forced into difficult choices.  On page 6 and following, he got into the meaning of evolutionary explanations when talking about morality itself.  Does natural selection necessarily lead to moral relativism?
    Here is the worry.  The scientific outlook has taught us that some parts of our subjective experience are products of our biological makeup and have no objective counterpart in the world.  The qualitative difference between red and green, the tastiness of fruit and foulness of carrion, the scariness of heights and prettiness of flowers are design features of our common nervous system, and if our species had evolved in a different ecosystem or if we were missing a few genes, our reactions could go the other way.  Now, if the distinction between right and wrong is also a product of brain wiring, why should we believe it is any more real than the distinction between red and green?  And if it is just a collective hallucination, how could we argue that evils like genocide and slavery are wrong for everyone, rather than just distasteful to us?
    Well-stated questions.  What is the Darwinian answer?  Religions and Platonic philosophers can point to God or the Logos for a universal morality, he knows, but can evolutionists find a moral pole star in an unguided, essentially amoral process?
        The crux of his argument is on page 7, where he argues that nonzero-sum games push any rational, self-preserving social agent in a moral direction, and that this direction becomes a natural standard, like a mathematical eigenvalue, by which moral actions can be judged.  Two features of reality, he says, might not give us 10 Thou-Shalt-Nots, but provide useful If-Thens:
    One is the prevalence of nonzero-sum games.  In many arenas of life, two parties are objectively better off if they both act in a nonselfish way than if each of them acts selfishly.  You and I are both better off if we share our surpluses, rescue each other’s children in danger and refrain from shooting at each other, compared with hoarding our surpluses while they rot, letting the other’s child drown while we file our nails or feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys.  Granted, I might be a bit better off if I acted selfishly at your expense and you played the sucker, but the same is true for you with me, so if each of us tried for these advantages, we’d both end up worse off.  Any neutral observer, and you and I if we could talk it over rationally, would have to conclude that the state we should aim for is the one in which we both are unselfish.  These spreadsheet projections are not quirks of brain wiring, nor are they dictated by a supernatural power; they are in the nature of things.
        The other external support for morality is a feature of rationality itself: that it cannot depend on the egocentric vantage point of the reasoner.  If I appeal to you to do anything that affects me – to get off my foot, or tell me the time or not run me over with your car – then I can’t do it in a way that privileges my interests over yours (say, retaining my right to run you over with my car) if I want you to take me seriously.  Unless I am Galactic Overlord, I have to state my case in a way that would force me to treat you in kind.  I can’t act as if my interests are special just because I’m me and you’re not, any more than I can persuade you that the spot I am standing on is a special place in the universe just because I happen to be standing on it.
    In this way, Pinker has described morality as a “natural” outcome of rational parties having to survive.  As support for his thesis, he points to the fact that great minds throughout history – Spinoza, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Kant and Rawls (all noteworthily non-religious in their approach) – have ended up aligning with the same eigenvector we call the Golden Rule.  There must be something natural about this outcome.  “It also underlies Peter Singer’s theory of the Expanding Circle – the optimistic proposal that our moral sense, though shaped by evolution to overvalue self, kin and clan, can propel us on a path of moral progress, as our reasoning forces us to generalize it to larger and larger circles of sentient beings.
        Pinker ended by pointing to cases of opposing groups moralizing against each other.  “Our habit of moralizing problems, merging them with intuitions of purity and contamination, and resting content when we feel the right feelings, can get in the way of doing the right thing,” he says.  The surprising conclusion?  Evolutionary theory does not lead to moral relativism!  “Far from debunking morality, then, the science of the moral sense can advance it, by allowing us to see through the illusions that evolution and culture have saddled us with and to focus on goals we can share and defend.
    Did you catch the flaw in Pinker’s reasoning that makes his whole case collapse?  For some of you who are getting good at baloney detecting, it was a no-brainer.  The core of his argument was that competing (selfish) parties are better off if they cooperate rather than compete, and that this can become a standard for morality.  Let’s ask the eminent Hahvahd professor a simple, two-word question: “Define better.”
        As we explained in our 12/19/2007 commentary, evolutionary “progress” is like erratic motion on a frictionless surface infinite in all directions.  There are no guidelines to what constitutes “better” or “worse” in Darwinland.  Why?  Because the core belief that underlies all Darwinian thinking is that evolution must be unguided.  Purpose and aim, therefore, are out, along with any ideas of universal truths.  There are neither gridlines nor compass points on the Darwinland surface.  They try to hide this fact sometimes using their two-platoon strategy (01/06/2008 commentary), but Phillip Johnson in his books has exposed this essential feature of Darwinian evolution, and you see it in the evolutionary literature all the time.  What you don’t find in the evolutionary literature is an acknowledgement of the fact that this leads to a self-refuting belief system.
        Learn the following principles well, because the Darwinists are ratcheting up the propaganda campaign to sell their pseudo-scientific “evolution of the moral sense” plot in a devious attempt to undermine the claims of Christianity and make Darwinism appear self-sufficient, able to explain the most intractable aspects of human behavior (06/25/2007, 12/01/2007, 05/22/2007, 05/17/2007, 06/14/2007).  Their explanations do little more than add to the just-so story database (11/05/2005, 09/09/2007 01/21/2006) and cannot be defended rationally, but they are luring students into the Darwin Party with their seductive tales (12/21/2005).
        Pinker has no grounds on which to describe his pseudo-morality as “better” than a Hobbes-style “war of all against all.”  Remember?  Darwinists claim that meteorites have bombarded most of life extinct several times.  Can a Darwinist shed a tear about those episodes in his myth?  No.  He must be consistent and simply take notes when the world kills itself, gets killed by natural causes, or never generates life in the first place.  Evolution is what evolution does.  There is no goal, no purpose, no destiny.  The myth of evolutionary progress went out with Lamarck.
        This means that Sewall Wright’s model of the “fitness landscape” is a also myth.  Since fitness is a vacuous term (fitness, remember, is not “better” than the lack of it; see “Fitness for Dummies” from 10/29/2002), the model collapses into the flat, frictionless surface where there are no measures of good, bad, right, or wrong.  Any attempt to extrude the Darwinland flat surface into a third dimension, such as describing a fitness landscape with peaks and valleys, is cheating.  Similarly, you cannot add coordinates, pole stars or GPS systems.  Where would they come from?  What rational being would impose them on the flatland?  As surprising as this sounds, one consequence is that fitness is a concept alien to the Darwinian world view.  Why?  Because it implies fitness is “better” than non-fitness.  Says who?  I don’t see any impartial judges or scorekeepers around; do you?  Where did they come from?  Did they evolve?  If so, what gives them any right to sit in judgment?
        Pinker might respond that as a scientific observer, he is not making value judgments at all, but simply attempting to describe objectively what populations tend to do: cooperation among sentient beings, a.k.a. morality, “happens”.  But here he has snuck in another alien concept (that is, alien to his world view): sentience.  Pinker simply helped himself to the concept of sentience (consciousness), like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
        Sentience is not composed of particles.  You can look inside a brain all you want and you will never discover sentience.  You will see neurotransmitters moving from point to point, and electrical impulses traveling.  You might even see more activity when a sentient being is having a sensation.  You will not, however, “see” sentience, any more than watching the pixels in an LCD with an oscilloscope will reveal the conceptual content of the TV program.  Neither will you ever be capable of observing sentience emerging from a Darwinian process.  A creationist will come along and say that “God endowed animals and humans with sentience” – on what scientific basis can Pinker show this is not the case?  It certainly fits the observations.  It fits the logic of causality, because out of nothing, nothing comes.  God’s sentience is the foundation for our sentience.  Q.E.D.  OK, Mr. Darwinist, explain that.
        Pinker, like so many other Darwinists, has the Yoda Complex (see 04/30/2007 commentary and links).   He has conveniently removed himself from Darwinland and is portraying himself as a detached, neutral, unbiased observer.  This is cheating.  He cannot simply step outside his evolved skin and pretend that there are laws of logic and universal truths that are eternal, necessary and certain, nor can he take with him the Judeo-Christian concept of rationality, or spiritual concepts and values found in the Bible: truth, logic, honesty, right and wrong.  The devil didn’t write Scripture, but he quotes it when it suits his purposes.
        Pinker was aware of the problem of universal truths and thought he could get away with a slick appeal to philosophical dualism (that there is a world of matter and a world of ideas).  He dismissed Platonic forms but then turned right around and reintroduced them in a modern Darwinian sense, filching concepts that Darwinism cannot generate on its own.  Watch him:
    This throws us back to wondering where those reasons could come from, if they are more than just figments of our brains.  They certainly aren’t in the physical world like wavelength or mass.  The only other option is that moral truths exist in some abstract Platonic realm, there for us to discover, perhaps in the same way that mathematical truths (according to most mathematicians) are there for us to discover.  On this analogy, we are born with a rudimentary concept of number, but as soon as we build on it with formal mathematical reasoning, the nature of mathematical reality forces us to discover some truths and not others.  (No one who understands the concept of two, the concept of four and the concept of addition can come to any conclusion but that 2 + 2 = 4.)  Perhaps we are born with a rudimentary moral sense, and as soon as we build on it with moral reasoning, the nature of moral reality forces us to some conclusions but not others.
        Moral realism, as this idea is called, is too rich for many philosophers’ blood.  Yet a diluted version of the idea – if not a list of cosmically inscribed Thou-Shalts, then at least a few If-Thens – is not crazy.  Two features of reality point any rational, self-preserving social agent in a moral direction.  And they could provide a benchmark for determining when the judgments of our moral sense are aligned with morality itself.
    Did you catch it?  Don’t be fooled by the magician; watch his hands and learn how the trick is done.  He just helped himself to ideas.  He helped himself to rationality (i.e., his proposed idea is “not crazy”).  He helped himself to If-Then statements, which presuppose laws of logic.  He helped himself to Universals, a moral sense (no matter how rudimentary), moral reasoning, benchmarks and all kinds of non-Darwinian things.  Foul!  Don’t let him get away with it.  Appealing to “mathematical reality” with an argument from analogy only adds fallacy to trickery.  If mathematical truths are abstract concepts, then abstract concepts are true, universal, necessary and certain: they too could not evolve from particles in motion.
    Plato was a secular idealist: he believed in the existence of a world of ideas, including idealized universal forms of which actual instances are particulars, and of universal values like truth, love and morality.  But it is not going to help Pinker to appeal to an updated, Darwinized version of Platonism, because Platonism collapses under its own arbitrary assumptions.  Plato had no explanation for how the forms get impressed on the world of reality.  He speculated that maybe it’s like an actor playing a role; different particulars are like different actors acting out the universal character.  This is another argument from analogy, and it fails to explain how the forms get impressed on the particulars.  To account for the connection, he had to resort to a myth about some demiurge he could not justify other than that he believed it.  You can prove anything with an arbitrary assumption.
        Christians have evidence of God, the eternal and universal standard of rationality, virtue and truth, imposing these universals onto the world of particulars at Creation, in the 10 Commandments, and in Christ, among many documented cases of His revelation (including the whole Bible).  Christians, therefore, have a “justified true belief” that legitimizes universal truths and explains how they were impressed on the particulars.  Evolutionists have no such resources.
        Interestingly, both Augustine and Justin Martyr believed Plato got his ideas from Moses.  This is possible in light of archaeological evidence that there was trade, including trafficking in slaves, from the Middle East into Greece centuries before Greek philosophy reached its zenith.  Jewish victims could easily have taught their masters the principles of the Torah (illustration from another context: the servant girl of Naaman the Syrian, II Kings 5).  Additionally, Israel was located at the crossroads of empires; undoubtedly there was ample opportunity for trade in ideas as well as goods and services.  In this view, Platonism is parasitic on concepts that did not emerge out of the presuppositions of Greek thought.  Another view is that Plato, and Pinker, reason about these things based on the innate sense of morality and rationality that is part of the image of God embossed in every human soul.  Either way, the world of ideas requires a real soul; it cannot emerge naturally from particles in motion.
        Pinker can only write an 8-page treatise on morality when he plagiarizes Judeo-Christian concepts.  If he were forced to use his own evolutionary presuppositions, he would babble Que sera, sera incoherently and go have more sex any way he can.  Morality?  What is that?  Logic?  Rationality?  No comprendo.
        This pernicious habit of the Darwinists will only be eradicated when enough sentient, rational, moral souls on this planet rise up and demand consistency from the thieving Darwinists.  For without consistency, you can prove anything – therefore, nothing.  Without universal truths, rationality and morality are vacuous concepts.  Arrest the thieves.  Make them get their own dirt.
    Next headline on:  DarwinismPolitics and Ethics
    Million-Degree Plasma Found in Orion   01/19/2008    
    The Orion nebula, an object of beauty to stargazers (picture, Hubble view) is pervaded by plasma heated to two million degrees Kelvin, reported astronomers in Science.1  Two funnel-shaped regions of x-ray emitting plasma in the extended nebula were observed by astronomers using the X-Ray Multi-Mirror (XMM)-Newton satellite.
        “The energy requirement to heat the large-scale x-ray emitting plasma is severe,” they said.  What could heat up gas to emit 55 billion trillion trillion ergs per second?  Not the molecular flows of gas in the nebula.  Not the microjets from numerous young stars.  Their suggestion: “The only efficient energy source is provided by the fast winds from the hot Trapezium stars” (picture).  The high-velocity wind, flowing tens of kilometers per second, is four orders of magnitude more energetic than the observed plasma, they said, and “can easily heat the observed plasma.”
        Those stars are short-lived, however.  The massive Trapezium stars in the brightest part of the nebula (picture) can only last a few millions of years or less – far less than the assumed age of the Milky Way.  The plasma bubble would disperse in hundreds of thousands of years without replenishment.  Do they see a pattern?
    Our Galaxy (and other star-forming galaxies) could thus maintain a network of x-ray bubbles and plasma flows, cooling over a few million years but continuously being replenished by shocked winds from a multitude of modest Orion-like star-forming regions, gently leaking out from the parent molecular clouds, in addition to being fed by discrete, but rare, supernova explosions.
    O’Dell and Townsley, commenting on this paper in the same issue of Science,2 said “Orion continues to surprise.”  Though they found the hot-wind mechanism plausible, “many questions remain in Orion,” they said.
    Why is the x-ray emission confined to these two areas?  Is there a channeling effect of the stellar wind, a rapid cooling of any other shocked gas closer to the star, or does extinction in the veil simply preclude observation of hot gas in the optically brightest part of the nebula?
    The last question suggests that the entire nebula may be glowing hot.  Further observations may help answer these questions.  “Once these observational questions have been resolved, the ball will be in the theoreticians’ court; it is they who must then confront the problems of why the Orion gas is at 2 million K and why it is located where it is.”
    1.  Gudel, Briggs et al, “Million-Degree Plasma Pervading the Extended Orion Nebula,” Science, 18 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5861, pp. 309-312, DOI: 10.1126/science.1149926.
    2.  O’Dell and Townsley, “Orion Continues to Surprise,” Science, 18 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5861, pp. 289-290, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153476.
    This story is provided as an example of a “surprise discovery” in science, and how scientists typically deal with them.  It’s analogous to finding erupting volcanoes on Io or geysers on Enceladus when theories had predicted they would be cold and dead.  Scientists delight in puzzles but typically try to solve them in accordance with the presuppositions of the paradigm they learned and the beliefs of their peers.  It’s rare for a maverick scientist to think outside the box.
        It may be that the mechanism suggested can account for the phenomenon.  How they will deal with the age problem is left as an exercise.  New high-energy massive stars will be needed continually to account for the ongoing emissions and plasma flows.  The stars in the Trapezium are thought to be much more short-lived than most stars.  When they have burned out, like bright sparklers, new ones will be needed to take their place.  Otherwise, the hot plasma would long ago have cooled down.
        One subject these astronomers did not delve into was plasma physics.  Because plasma is electrically charged, it can move and form structures much more rapidly than material under gravitational forces alone.  One creationist who has given a good deal of thought to this is Barry Setterfield.  His explanations about how plasma might cause dramatic changes in galaxies and stars rapidly can be found at setterfield.org.  This link is provided without comment, not necessarily as an endorsement, for those interested in pursuing the pros or cons of his “maverick” model, which is controversial even among creationists.  It should be noted, however, that some secular astronomers have also argued that plasma physics is much more important (and neglected) in formulating cosmological models.
    Next headline on:  StarsPhysicsDating Methods
    Mouse Grows Long Finger, Takes Off Like a Bat   01/18/2008    
    When does humor in a scientific journal cross the line of scientific objectivity?  You be the judge.  Science magazine, in its “Random Samples” news featurette, said this in the Jan. 18 issue:
    Over the past 100 million years or so, bats have evolved many features that distinguish them from their mammalian cousins.  One is long, bony digits to support their wings.  Now, by manipulating one small DNA sequence, Richard Behringer of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and colleagues have nudged mice a tiny step along the evolutionary path to bat-hood.
        The researchers looked at the expression of a homeobox gene, prx1, a key to the development of limbs in all mammals, and found that bats expressed the gene differently from mice in embryonic limbs.  So, in mice they removed a chunk of DNA known to control prx1 expression and replaced it with the same piece from bats.  The forelimbs of the resulting mice were 6% longer than those of normal baby mice.  Although small, that increase is “important,” says developmental biologist Clifford Tabin of Harvard Medical School in Boston.
        Similar studies have been done with flies and worms, but this is the first to show how a specific change in control of gene expression--and not an actual gene--can produce a gross morphological change in a mammal, says Behringer, whose study was published this week in Genes & Development.  “If you play this through with lots and lots of genes, maybe ultimately we could make that mouse fly out of the cage.”
    Bats, of course, have sophisticated flying skills, membranes for lift, specialized ears and mouth parts for sonar (with a brain to use them), special feet for clinging to cave roofs, dietary adaptations, and “many features that distinguish them from their mammalian cousins.”  The earliest known fossil bats already had these adaptations (05/18/2007), and their evolutionary history is “largely unknown” and their fossil record “impoverished” (01/28/2005).  It would seem much more than adding a millimeter or so to the forelimbs would be necessary before the mouse could fly out of the cage.
    OK, so the cute extrapolation was meant to be a little extreme for humor.  We try to have fun in our reporting, too.  What’s not funny is that in reality, they are dead serious.  They really believe a 6% change in a finger length is actually a “step along the evolutionary path to bat-hood.”  Give it 100 million years and these small changes can add up to major transformations.  And you thought orthogenesis went out in the 1920s.
        Too bad we already awarded SEQOTW this week.  This would have been a good one: evolutionists take giant leap on the path to batty-hood.
    Next headline on:  MammalsGeneticsEvolutionDumb Ideas
      500 vertebrate fish found in early Cambrian, from 01/30/2003; creation kids find dinosaur, from 01/29/2003; feathered whats-it found in China, from 01/27/2003.

    Bible Name Found on Jerusalem Artifact   01/17/2008    
    A man named Temech has risen from the pages of the Bible.  The Jerusalem Post reported that his clay seal was found in a dig south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by archaeologist Eilat Mazar, who earlier found a portion of a wall from the same Nehemiah period (11/30/2007).  The article shows a picture of the seal.  This adds to the growing list of Bible characters found in archaeological digs (e.g., 07/11/2007).
        Temech (or Temah) is mentioned in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 as one of the returnees from Babylonian exile.  His seal may have been purchased in Babylon and brought to Jerusalem.  The date of the seal is 538 to 445 BC and is significant for identifying a temple servant from the First Temple period.  The blog at Bible Places also mentions the discovery.
    Update 02/02/2008: Bible Places Blog mentions that “Temah” is probably an incorrect translation.  Instead, the name may be that of another Bible character of the same period: Sophit, daughter of Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:19).

    The seal seems to indicate a degree of syncretism with Babylonian religious imagery.  This should not be surprising.  “The fact that this cultic scene relates to the Babylonian chief god seemed not to have disturbed the Jews who used it on their own seal,” the article states as Mazar’s opinion.  We know from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that the people needed repeated reprimands to purge their lifestyles of pagan influences.  Some returnees were more committed than others.
        Popular idols are hard to exorcise.  Undoubtedly a future historian would wonder about the mixed messages in artifacts found among the remains of a typical 2008 church.  What icons of idolatry might be found among your own artifacts?  Would pins or rings with emblems of pop stars, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and other non-Christian iconic images make a future archaeologist wonder how to interpret the find?  Would an icon of Darwin be the modern equivalent of the Babylonian god Sin?
    Next headline on:  Bible
    Messenger Sends Postcards from Mercury   01/17/2008    
    Images downloaded from MESSENGER’s first flyby of Mercury on January 14 are starting to be published.  The Science Images page of the MESSENGER website (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) posted the first image January 16, with more being added from time to time.  Launched in 2004 (07/27/2004, bullet 3), the spacecraft has unveiled surface features like flattened craters, crater chains, bright rayed craters, concentric craters, fault scarps, mountains, depressions, wrinkle ridges, ejecta blankets and possible flow features.
        This was the spacecraft’s first encounter with Mercury of three flybys before orbit insertion in 2011.  The photos end a 30 year data gap since Mariner 10 imaged one side of the planet in the 1970s.  MESSENGER’s new images reveal the unseen side of the innermost planet for the first time.  Some images overlap with the earlier set, now made with sharper optics than the vidicon camera aboard Mariner 10.
        Interested readers might want to follow the dialogue among serious planet enthusiasts about the MESSENGER pictures going on at Unmanned Spaceflight.  They usually get pretty excited at historic events like this.  The Planetary Society blog has some initial impressions.  Emily was particularly struck by the flatness of most crater floors – an observation that could imply geological activity, though slumping, rebound and impact-related effects would have to be ruled out in light of Mercury’s bulk composition and gravity.
    Update 01/22/2008:  Pictures released a few days after the flyby reveal additional geological complexity on Mercury.  The Jan. 20 image shows ghost craters, explained in the caption: “Ghostly remnants of a few craters are seen on the right side of this image, possibly indicating that once-pristine, bowl-shaped craters (like those on the large crater’s floor) have been subsequently flooded by volcanism or some other plains-forming process.”  The conundrum of secondary craters was described in the Jan. 18 image: “With their large size and production of abundant secondary craters, these flat-floored craters both illuminate and confound the study of the geological history of Mercury.”  The process of inferring the timing and sequence of geological events was discussed in the caption of the Jan. 17 image.  The first-ever color image of Mercury was also released.
    The captions show that some inferences can be made about the sequence of events: a crater, then an ejecta blanket, then a scarp and perhaps an uplift, then another crater.  The timing between them is far more speculative.  Mercury has a number of characteristics that challenge standard theories about planetary origins: its global magnetic field (02/12/2004, 05/04/2007), its iron abundance, and its surface features that might indicate geological processes continuing long after the crust and mantle should have solidified.  Most of the processing is undoubtedly impact-related; if, however, tectonic or volcanic processes are the best explanation, then it would raise questions about the age of the planet.
        It is also interesting to note that many exoplanets (planets around other stars) are Jupiter-sized yet with orbits closer to their host star than Mercury is to the sun (07/15/2005, 05/07/2004; cf. 07/21/2007).  This puzzle challenges traditional theories of planet formation.  The new MESSENGER images should be studied by unbiased observers not constrained to preserve traditional theories with their obligate billions of years.  Mercury belongs to all observers.  Join the discovery team.
    Next headline on:  Solar System
    Walking Fish Gets Good Mileage   01/16/2008    
    In 2006 (04/06/2006), 05/03/2006), Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago announced his missing link: Tiktaalik, a fish with wrist bones that he claimed were transitional between fish and four-footed creatures, or tetrapods.  Since then he has taken his fish on the road and is getting good mileage for evolution.
        Tiktaalik shows up right off the bat as evidence for evolution in Chapter One of the newly-revised National Academy of Sciences booklet, Science, Evolution and Creationism.  It was given a prominent place in the PBS film Judgment Day (11/14/2007) last November.  Now, Shubin is promoting his new book that takes Tiktaalik all the way on the road to humans.  This is clear from the title, Your Inner Fish: A Journey Through the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body.  Despite the amount of arbitrary inference that must be asserted to connect a fish fossil with a lineage outside its class (see 10/20/2006) commentary, Shubin has made his pet fish the centerpiece of a vast ancestor’s tale covering billions of years.
        Donald Johanson, discoverer of the austrolopithecine fossil he named Lucy, was delighted.  “I was hooked from the first chapter,” he said, according to press release from Shubin’s campus.  “Creationists will want this book banned because it presents irrefutable evidence for a transitional creature that set the stage for the journey from sea to land.  This engaging book combines the excitement of discovery with the rigors of great scholarship to provide a convincing case of evolution from fish to man.”
        The theme of the book is mentioned in the press release.  Shubin writes, “The best road maps to human bodies lie in the bodies of other animals.  The reason is that the bodies of these creatures are often simpler versions of ours.”  The book mentions similarities in limbs, teeth, head, ears and eyes between humans and other animals.
        Yet similarities have never been controversial, even to creationists.  Asserting that they came about through an evolutionary process of descent with modification by an unguided natural process assumes what needs to be proved.  Though the book recounts the “epic expedition to arctic wastelands” where Shubin’s team found the fossil, only scientific evidence that can be adduced to establish the claim of common ancestry is germane to the argument that these similarities evolved, rather than were created.
        Nevertheless, “In 2006, the public was overwhelmed with news on the discovery of Tiktaalik roseae, a fossil ‘fishapod’ that represents the transition between fish and four-legged animals, known as tetrapods,” the press release continues.  Shubin seemed to take his fishapod on a very long walk of faith when he mixed the uncontroversial observation of similarity with the Darwinist assumption of unguided common descent over billions of years:
    Ancient fish bones can be a path to knowledge about who we are and how we got that way.  We are not separate from the rest of the living world; we are part of it down to our bones and even our genes....
       I can imagine few things more beautiful or intellectually profound than finding the basis for our humanity, and remedies for many of the ills we suffer, nestled inside some of the most humble creatures that have ever lived on our planet.
    Again, even creationists acknowledge the similarities Shubin mentions.  Our common traits, including a universal DNA code, bilateral symmetry, similar genes that code for similar traits, even susceptibility to diseases, could have different explanations than Darwinian common ancestry.  Creationists would say they point to a single Creator who designed all life according to a plan for living on a shared biosphere.  Creationists also celebrate man’s connectedness to the world and all of life.  Your Inner Fish begs the question that Darwin had the only explanation for the data.  Since there are other species of fish that exhibit walking behavior, (e.g., mudskippers, walking sharks), and the previous missing link Coelacanth had bony fins but did not use them for walking, the insertion of Tiktaalik as a definitive missing link in an evolutionary timeline seems arbitrary.
        Shubin found an inner human in his fish.  Carl Zimmer, in a book review in Nature,1 said that Shubin went so far as to propose stories about the evolution of hiccups and hangovers:
    The simple, passionate writing may turn more than a few high-school students into aspiring biologists.  And it covers a lot of ground.  Shubin inspects our eyeballs, noses and hands to demonstrate how much we have in common with other animals.  He notes how networks of genes for simple traits can expand and diversify until they build new complex structures such as heads.  Also, that hangovers explain how our ears evolved from sensory cells on the surface of fish.  He investigates the hiccup, the result of a tortuous nervous system.

    The book hit bookstores January 15.  In addition, Shubin gave special lectures to the public at Chicago’s Field Museum, where he works as provost.
    1.  Carl Zimmer, “Twenty-first-century anatomy lesson,” Nature 451, 245 (17 January 2008) | doi:10.1038/451245a.
    Shubin’s broad-brush conclusions, extrapolated from a few bits and pieces of bone, go wildly beyond any justified scientific inference.  It is one thing to examine similarities between species in a lab in the present.  It is quite another to tie them together into a speculative historical sequence that is unobservable and non-repeatable.  Moreover, the conclusions rest on dating methods that assume the very evolutionary story Shubin describes so passionately.  In science, empiricism is king.  Simple, passionate writing, while admirable in rhetoric or theater, is not a substitute for observability, testability and repeatability in scientific work.
        Creationists are not book banners; good grief.  Does Johanson forget what the Darwin Party did to Of Pandas and People?  The radical Darwiniacs didn’t even want students in Pennsylvania to even know the book existed in the library.  Talk about banning books.  Creationists want the public to do more reading, not less, and learn more about evolutionary theory than he, Shubin and the NAS are revealing.  Go ahead; read up about your inner fishie.  Munch on some goldfish crackers while you’re at it, so you can experience your inner fish as you read.  Then wake up, grow up and read books with more philosophical substance.  (Suggestions)
        A little bit of data morphed into a grand, sweeping tale – this is propaganda, not science.  It would be like a Stalinist pointing to a pitchfork as evidence for the class struggle in history that requires the state to take over the property of the bourgeousie and move the peasants to the collective farms.  Support the Five-Year Plan!  Is that the only interpretation of the pitchfork?  Send the capitalists to Siberia!  Come now.  Neither Shubin, the NAS nor Johanson have any justification for drawing such broad conclusions from the bits and pieces of data they exhibit, by any standard of logical inference that can withstand critical scrutiny.  It was instructive that the press release said that the “public was overwhelmed with news on the discovery of Tiktaalik”.  Does this sound like overwhelming evidence, or an overwhelming marketing campaign?  The news media were all primed for the unveiling, and pushed out the most shameless hyperboles imaginable (review them at 04/06/2006).
        You can evolve the word diorama from data by mutating the t (truth) into m (misinterpretation), adding r (recklessness), and rigging the io (input-output, as in GIGO).  But because the diorama is the goal, it would be a rigged form of evolution using a twisted form of intelligent design.  Don’t be dazzled by the diorama in the Shubin commercial.  Look at the data and ask if other dioramas fit the very same observations just as well or better.  The only way Tiktaalik got such good mileage was with a lot of pedaling (and peddling) by its salespeople.
    Next headline on:  FossilsDarwinismMedia
      Muslims misuse science, from 01/22/2002; but Darwinist educators give Muslims better press than Christians, from 01/15/2002.

    NY Times: Cosmologists Have Lost Their Brains   01/15/2008    
    Naked brains floating in space, disconnected from reality – this describes the minds of some modern cosmologists, accused Dennis Overbye in a shocking article in the New York Times January 15.  While attempting to be sympathetic to the smart guys who can cover a blackboard with equations about higher dimensions, it was clear he was about to call these guys nuts.  His title: “Big brain theory: have cosmologists lost theirs?”
        Some of the ideas being seriously proposed by cosmologists include: disconnected observers in space (of which you might be one, imagining you really are here on Earth); universes bubbling off in all directions all the time; universes that make observers in a snap; reincarnation; and the possibility of a quantum fluctuation leading to a bang that would destroy us and the universe in a flash.
        If Bob Berman already thought cosmologists were clueless (see 09/29/2007, 10/06/2004), this article would surely push him over the edge.  Overbye himself said, “If you are inclined to skepticism this debate might seem like further evidence that cosmologists, who gave us dark matter, dark energy and speak with apparent aplomb about gazillions of parallel universes, have finally lost their minds.”
        Yet the article describes the opinions of leaders in the field: Alan Guth, Andrei Linde, Leonard Susskind, Lisa Dyson, and others, who debate their paradoxes and imaginative scenarios in all seriousness, run impressive calculations, and deduce alternate realities that could not be scientifically tested even in principle.  If skepticism was the key to the Age of Reason, has the time come to turn skepticism against the skeptics?
        Those curious about what possible rationale any scientist could defend for such notions as brains floating in space in bubbling universes where time runs backward can dig into the article for its discussion of the Boltzmann paradox, quantum radiation, dark energy and other quasi-rational or quasi-realistic elements of their tales.  One will look hard for any baby of observable science, however, in the metaphysical bathwater (cf. 02/18/2007).
        After centuries of the Age of Reason, attempting to describe nature in rational terms, it would seem natural philosophers (now called scientists) have created a new metaphysics more speculative than ever.  Have the boundaries of science and reason been left far behind?  Has any accountability to evidence been jettisoned?  Linde, after discussing the possibility of reincarnation in modern cosmological speculations, says, “People are not prepared for this discussion.”  One wonders who can claim to be on the right side of the looking glass.

    Linde, who just happens to be a Hindu, just happened to find a way to make reincarnation a part of “science” – not that one’s religion should in any way be used to critique one’s adherence to the rules of science now, Ms Scott.  Those rules, of course, no longer require empirical evidence.  Anything goes – even Eastern mysticism – so long as one is not a creationist.
        Evolutionists used to ridicule creationists with a silly what-if question: “If there is a God, how do you know he didn’t create the world just five minutes ago, complete with our memories of past lives?”  They also ridiculed the Biblical statement that God will roll up the universe like a scroll in the last days.  Read the NY Times article; we rest our case.  You will never find anything in the Bible nuttier than this.
        Ten years ago it seemed that creationists were on the defensive.  Bible-believing Christians seemed to have a lot of explaining to do: the light-distance problem, apparent age, etc.  Now it seems that the only ones with their brains still inside their skulls are those who believe Genesis 1:1.
        This article is another reason we suggested some of these cosmologists take up truck driving (02/21/2005, 11/07/2007).  It was a very charitable suggestion, for them and their students – and for reporters like Overbye who are apparently disturbed about what has become of science.  Apparently they have lost it.  Cosmology has imploded.  The Enlightenment is dead.  The only hope is an escape to reality.  A little fresh air, some country scenery, some exercise, wouldn’t that be a good rehab after too much academia?  At the motel, you might pull out that book in the dresser.
        Ask yourself if this 300-year quest to explain the world by human reason instead of revelation has worked.  It is indeed possible that all the technology and convenience of modern civilization would have developed anyway, because most of the productive (not merely speculative) nature philosophers and scientists were Christians (see online book).  Other great civilizations took technology to impressive lengths without Enlightenment assumptions (i.e., that man is emerging from the Dark Ages of belief into the Age of Reason).  You now see the comic conclusion of rational man’s theater of the absurd (11/29/2004).  Here is where reasoning out of the human imagination alone has led (01/17/2007 commentary).
        Does anyone envy these people?  (Apart from the salaries they make at ivy-league institutions without having to work, that is.)  Have they developed anything to help you live, to improve your marriage, your relationships, your goals and aspirations, and your mental health?  Are you more physically fit and morally upright after dreaming about bubbling universes, dark matter, dark energy, dark everything, chaotic fluctuations that go bang in the night, and floating brains?  Maybe God lets man go as far as he can on his own to make His point.  A godly grandmother praying for a prodigal child seems to have more of a grip on the Age of Reason than these poor, pathetic souls who wander in the dark and think they are the wise ones.  Without apologies for repeating a trite Christmas card slogan, wise men still seek Him. 
    Next headline on:  CosmologyDumb Ideas
    Humans Excel at... Please Wait... Patience   01/14/2008    
    Here’s another thing that distinguishes humans from animals: patience.  Current Biology usually has a “Quick Guide” feature on some aspect of biology.  In the latest issue, patience was the patient.  First of all, what is it?
    Humans and other animals often make decisions that trade off present and future benefits.  Should a monkey eat an unripe fruit or wait for it to ripen?  Should I purchase the iPhone at its debut or wait for the price to drop in a few months?  In these dilemmas, large gains often require long waits, so decision makers must choose between a smaller, sooner reward and a larger, later reward.
    Animals experience these tradeoffs all the time, particularly when foraging for food.  A Clark’s nutcracker (a Western bird) can, for instance, store 33,000 seeds for later consumption, “that is 33,000 decisions to delay gratification.”  But being impulsive can have its payoffs, too.  “He who hesitates is lost,” a proverb says.  If you don’t snatch at the seed in front of you, it could fall into the river.
        Following several questions and answers about patience (how it is measured, how animals measure up, etc.) came the question of interest to the human animal: “Are humans uniquely patient?”
    The most extreme examples of nonhuman animal patience pale in comparison to the levels of patience seen in humans.  Rather than waiting for only seconds or minutes, humans will wait days, weeks, months or even years for gains.  Is this a true cognitive divide?  The answer is yes and no.  In one sense, comparing the human and nonhuman experimental work is like comparing apples and oranges because the methodologies differ so greatly.  Repeated choices with all real rewards and time delays may yield different results from one-shot choices with hypothetical rewards and delays.  When tested in a manner similar to other animals, human subjects look similar to (or sometimes even more impulsive than!) chimpanzees.
        Thus, in certain situations humans show similar levels of patience as other primates.  Yet, clearly situations exist in which humans are much more patient than other animals.  It is difficult to imagine even chimpanzees investing in the future in a way comparable to depositing money into a retirement account 30-40 years before receiving a return.  Nonetheless, we know that, for instance, many species show impressive abilities for future planning.  Western scrub jays can plan for their breakfast in the morning.  Monkeys and apes, especially chimpanzees, strategically invest in relationships with group members to climb the political ladder of their dominance hierarchies.  Though these species lack the complex language and symbolic systems (such as money and legal contracts) that allow humans to work over vast temporal horizons, they do demonstrate a flexible means of dealing with the future.  Perhaps the recent surge in interest in animal patience will tell us whether long-term patience is a uniquely human virtue.
    In short, put your money into an IRA instead of investing in a Monkey Bank. 
    1.  Jeffrey R. Stevens and David W. Stephens, “Quick Guide: Patience,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 8 January 2008, Pages R11-R12.
    They missed the whole point.  Human patience is a virtue, not a trait.  The fact that animals (and humans) may have instincts that work in a raw-biological context tells us nothing about the rationality and virtue behind human patience.  If it were merely instinctive, it would not require training and education and conscious choice.  If it were a biological trait, we would not see so many exceptions.
        Humans have the capacity for long-term gratification because we were made in the image of God.  That is the only explanation that makes sense for the ability to wait for payoff for decades, or a lifetime.  That is what explains parents denying their gratification for the sake of their children, so that they will be able to have opportunities they never had.  And that is what enables a soul to deny itself till death for a joy in a future life, following the example of Christ, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
        We are animals, but we are not mere animals.  All theists recognize we are rational animals; it’s not like they believe humans float above the ground.  We have stomachs and sex organs and biological urges like the rest of biology.  That curious blend of body and soul is what makes our lives so interesting and challenging.  We were made for an unseen reality that can override our natural urges.  That is why we have need of patience.  That is why we are admonished to “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (v.3).
        Having a biological propensity like the animals to weigh the costs and benefits of immediate vs delayed gratification does in no way diminish the unique capacity of humans for patience, nor does a listing of the misdeeds of impulsive or diseased individuals who act only according to their animal natures.  Indeed, try to imagine a chimpanzee investing in an IRA for 40 years.  Without a soul, with its rational capacity for language, choice and wisdom, such capabilities would be unexplainable.  Current biology demonstrates it.
    Next headline on:  Human BodyEthicsTheology
    Bacteria to the Future   01/14/2008    
    Bacteria used to be considered so boring, they were passed over by scientists eager to look where the action was: eukaryotic cells.  That was then.  Now, Nature reported,1 the little rods and spheres and spirals have lots of tricks up their sleeves worth investigating.  “Long dismissed as featureless, disorganized sacks, bacteria are now revealing a multitude of elegant internal structures.”  These include spiral skeletons (“sophisticated internal structures that give them shape, and help them grow and divide”) and actin-like motors that control magnetosomes (iron-containing structures) that give bacteria a sense of direction.
        Until recently, bacteria appeared to have featureless interiors, even when viewed through electron microscopes.  New techniques, particularly cryo-electron tomography, are disclosing wonders that were previously invisible.  The discovery by Jeff Errington in 2001 that bacteria do indeed have a cytoskeleton was “one of those few times in a scientific career when you do an experiment that completely changes your way of thinking.”  Errington imaged filaments of tubulin wrapped around the inner wall of the cell like the stripes on a barber pole.  One theory is that the scaffolding “tells the cell wall’s enzyme contractors outside the cytoplasm where to lay new bricks” (see 01/16/2003).  The filaments and associated proteins are also involved in quality control during cell division, and help organize the magnetosomes into sensory organs.
        Eukaryotic cells themselves were assumed by 19th century biologists to be featureless blobs of protoplasm.  That view, of course, changed dramatically throughout the second half of the 20th century.  History seems to be repeating itself with respect to the tinier cells that comprise the most numerous life forms on earth: “For more than a century, cell biology had been practised on ‘proper’ cells – those of the eukaryotes (a category that includes animals, plants, protists and fungi),” Ewen Callaway wrote.  “....Hundreds to thousands of times smaller than their eukaryotic cousins, and seemingly featureless, bacteria were rarely invited to the cell biology party.”  These discoveries about “simple” bacteria are helping to change that.  “We know very little,” said Dyche Mullins [UC San Francisco].  The discovery of the cytoskeleton proved that “There was a lot of organization in bacterial cells we were just missing.”  The field is just now opening up after decades of neglect.  “There’s a lot of unexplored biology,” he said – and this article didn’t even touch on the subject of the bacterial flagellum.
    1.  Ewen Callaway, “Cell biology: Bacteria’s new bones,” Nature 9 January 2008 | Nature 451, 124-126 (2008) | doi:10.1038/451124a.  Also published on News@Nature.
    Some cognitive dissonance in this article was worth noting.  Throughout the text, scientists were admitting how little they know about bacteria – and this is with millions of the little cells right under their noses, in real time, in the present.  But then, right in the middle of the article, a just-so story was inserted about a mythical past that would be unobservable even in principle:
    As cytoskeletons evolved, they took on new chores and snowballed in complexity.  At some stage after eukaryotes branched off from bacteria, the eukaryote cytoskeleton seems to have frozen in time.  From yeast through to people, its proteins do many of the same jobs, such as towing sister chromosomes to opposite ends of a dividing cell or making sure the endoplasmic reticulum nestles up against the nucleus.  More complex eukaryotes might use actin to flex muscles and keratin to make hair, but those tasks are variations on a theme.
        Not so with bacteria, says Mullins.  Actins that determine cell shape work differently across the bacterial world, and some rod-shaped bacteria, such as tuberculosis, don’t even have them.  Due to their vast numbers and unicellular lifestyle, “bacteria can play around with fundamental mechanisms for doing things in a way that eukaryotes can’t”, he says.
    This is how the Darwinians get away with calling evolution a “fact” (see next entry).  They simply declare it a fact and treat it as if it were a fact.  Those only makes sense if f.a.c.t. stands for Fictional Account Creatively Told.  It doesn’t have to actually be a fact in the old-fashioned sense.  As long as everyone is trained to think it is a fact, the Darwin Party can remain in power, the trains run on time and there is peace in the streets.
        The downside is that people’s minds are enslaved to a myth and science suffers.  Did Darwinian assumptions hold back progress in bacterial biology?  Arguably so.  According to the Darwinian mindset, bacteria were just primitive, featureless blobs, till new techniques revealed what is really going on.
        A design-theoretic biology might have motivated a different approach.  For an organism to be this small yet maintain all the functions necessary for life, there must be incredible nano-engineering and miniaturization going on inside those cells.  Let’s find out.  Maybe we can even learn some principles that can help us with our micro-engineering questions.  The evolutionary paradigm is revolting.  Time for a design revolution.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent Design
      Tooth or consequences (01/04/2001): things Darwinists were claiming seven years ago: birds are evolving just like Darwin said (01/18/2001), sexual selection makes girls attracted to deep-voiced men (01/16/2001), and music is glorified bird chirping (01/05/2001).  Is just-so storytelling skill evolving?

    Zatta Fact?  “Scientific Facts” Evolve   01/14/2008    
    Every once in awhile it is good to be reminded that “scientific facts” are in a constant state of revision.  Here are some recent examples of scientists with surprised looks on their faces:

    1. Cholesterol for health:  Surprise, says EurekAlert: cholesterol may actually pose health benefits.  “... don’t push aside bacon and eggs just yet,” it begins: researchers at Texas A&M did not expect to find improvements in muscle gain among elderly patients: “At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that there was a significant association of dietary cholesterol and change in strength,” they found, with the highest gain among those with the highest cholesterol intake.  “Needless to say, these findings caught us totally off guard.
    2. The Hobbit:  The diminutive skeletons on the island of Flores in Indonesia were first declared to be a new species of primitive hominid, but now, according to the UK Telegraph, Mike Morwood (U of New England, Australia) is making a case that they were modern humans with a growth disorder (10/25/2005, 10/11/2006).
    3. Count me out:  Anthropologists thought they could determine primitive counting words in native languages from more advanced, abstract ones, but an article on Science Now says the reverse could be true.  The more primitive counting words could be derived from more complex systems.
    4. Backwards galaxy:  Spiral arms are supposed to lead, not follow.  How can the trailing tips of a spiral arm be leading the rest?  That’s what is apparently happening in NGC 4622, reported PhysOrg.  This is an “inconvenient” truth for astronomers who could not rule out the backward motion (08/01/2002).  They even found evidence of backward and forward motion in different parts of the spiral arms.
    5. Dino desert:  This dinosaur lived in a desert.  No, actually, it lived in the tropics.  The BBC News described a rethinking about the Bristol dinosaur Thecodontosaurus, discovered in 1834.  “The big surprise was discovering that these reptiles did not live on arid uplands but rather on small well-vegetated tropical islands around Bristol,” a researcher said.
    6. Rethinking dust:  “The discovery of a large disc of dust around a binary star system could force astronomers to rethink their computer models of the Universe,” began an article on the BBC News.  WZ Sagittae was not supposed to have any dust.  Now that the Spitzer Space Telescope has inferred the presence of a dust disk, “The discovery may have implications for the study of everything from supermassive black holes to the formation of planets.” 
    7. The eyes fool you:  Identical-looking animals may come from different species, according to a phylogenetic study discussed by Science Daily.  Does this mean there are many more cryptic species hiding in the genes that we thought?  Could be; studies of frog DNA in the Amazon and giraffe DNA in Africa indicate that multiple separate lineages can exist side by side with little interbreeding between them.  Taxonomists may have “hugely underestimated the number of species with which we share our planet.”
    8. Soiled assumptions:  A paper in Geology this month said there is a big discrepancy between mineral residency time and soil age.1  Scientists at University of Delaware said, “we demonstrate that traditional estimates of mineral-specific chemical weathering rates from soil chronosequences may diverge by several orders of magnitude from the actual weathering rates.”
    9. Y worry:  Men, take heart: your Y chromosomes are not functionally degenerate leftovers of once-prominent genetic structures.  That’s the evolving picture of the Y, reported Science magazine January 4.2  Scientists used to say, “Genetic and theoretical studies of Y chromosomes have led to the conclusion that they evolve to become functionally degenerate.”  The new picture is: “The Y chromosome has evolved to become a major regulator of gene expression in males.”  It may not have as many genes, but if it’s in the driver’s seat, it’s got balls of chromatin in its genes that are not losers.
    These upsets and reconsiderations are spread across a wide variety of disciplines and may be considered typical of science news in an average month.  There is one subject, however, about which some scientists are so absolutely convinced, they call it a “scientific fact” that deserves to be taught with missionary fervor: evolution.  The lead editorial in Nature last week began,3 “Spread the word.  Evolution is a scientific fact, and every organization whose research depends on it should explain why.”  The conclusion said,
    As the National Academy of Sciences and Padian have shown, it is possible to summarize the reasons why evolution is in effect as much a scientific fact as the existence of atoms or the orbiting of Earth round the Sun, even though there are plenty of refinements to be explored.  Yet some actual and potential heads of state refuse to recognize this fact as such.  And creationists have a tendency to play on the uncertainties displayed by some citizens.  Evolution is of profound importance to modern biology and medicine.  Accordingly, anyone who has the ability to explain the evidence behind this fact to their students, their friends and relatives should be given the ammunition to do so.  Between now and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth on 12 February 2009, every science academy and society with a stake in the credibility of evolution should summarize evidence for it on their website and take every opportunity to promote it.

    1.  Kyungsoo Yoo and Simon Marius Mudd, “Discrepancy between mineral residence time and soil age: Implications for the interpretation of chemical weathering rates,” Geology, Volume 36, Issue 1 (January 2008), pp. 35-38.
    2.  William R. Rice and Urban Friberg, “Functionally Degenerate--Y Not So?”, Science, 4 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5859, pp. 42-43, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153482.
    3.  Editorial: Spread the word, Nature 451, 108 (10 January 2008) | doi:10.1038/451108b.
    The evidence for Darwinian evolution (universal common ancestry of all life by an unguided process of chance mutation and natural selection) is flimsier than any and all of the categories listed above, but it is a FACT that must be forced on students and the public.  Otherwise, who is going to show up at the big Darwin Day party that is being planned for 09?  If you don’t want all that money to go to waste, do your duty: help preach the propaganda everywhere, at every opportunity.  Just don’t ask what a “fact” is.  (For help, see Dunlap’s Laws of Physics).
    Next headline on:  EvolutionHealthEarly ManAstronomyDinosaursGenetics and DNAGeology
    Laetoli Prints Eroding Fast   01/13/2008    
    Can footprints said to be 3.7 million years old be so fragile as to disappear in 30 years?  News@Nature reported that the famed Laetoli footprints, said to be those of Lucy’s vintage, are in danger of being destroyed by weathering, erosion, vegetation, cattle and humans.
        Though located several hours’ drive in Ngorongoro National Park in Tanzania, and covered with a protective layer that was placed in 1995, they could soon be gone.  A local conservationist is trying to raise interest in a museum for the site.  This would not only protect the prints but also attract interest about human evolution for tourists.
        See the links in the 01/10/2007 entry for background information on the Laetoli prints.
    Preserved for millions of years, but now at risk in 30 years, and it’s all our fault.  Local wants to make it a Darwin shrine.  Typical.
    Next headline on:  Early Man
    A Tale of Two Cosmic Cities   01/13/2008    
    Two organizations have prepared curricula presenting grand panoramas of cosmic history.  Each is divided into seven modules – but that is where any similarity ends.  One is a completely materialistic and evolutionary view composed by scientists and educators from NASA and the federal government and major academic institutions and corporations.  The other is a completely Biblical, theistic view put forward by Answers in Genesis, a creationist group.  Here they are in summary outline form:
    1. Cosmic Voyage:  A curriculum named Voyages Through Time was developed by the SETI Institute partnership with NASA Ames Research Center, the California Academy of Sciences, and San Francisco State University with major funding from the National Science Foundation (Grant IMD #9730693), NASA, Hewlett Packard Company, Foundation for Microbiology, SETI Institute, and Educate America, according to an article “Astrobiology 101” on Space.com.  The website of Voyages Through Time shows seven headings:
      1. The Curriculum:  The overview module stresses the important of key “overarching goals” to be taught students in the year-long curriculum: evolution as cumulative changes over time, the various processes underlying these changes, the differing time scales and rates of change, the connections and relationships across these realms of change, and science as a process for advancing our understanding of the natural world.
      2. Cosmic Evolution:  This module teaches that “The universe, the totality of all things that exist, is thought to have begun with an explosion of space and time and the expansion of a hot, dense mass of elementary particles and photons, that has evolved over billions of years into the stars and galaxies we observe today.”
      3. Planetary Evolution:  As the title implies, this module teaches that all planets “formed from the same spinning disk of dust and gas,” implying Earth is a cosmic accident that happened to provide an environment suitable for life.
      4. Origin of Life:  This module recognizes a lack of scientific understanding, but promises light in the future: “Current evidence from the rock and fossil record indicates that life on Earth began about 3.8 billion years ago.  Yet how life first formed, or even how the biochemical precursors of life developed, and under what conditions these events happened, are not yet understood.  The origin of life is an area of active research, with considerable debate among scientists from various disciplines.”
      5. Evolution of Life:  This fully Darwinian module exhibits peppered moths, uniformitarian dating methods, phylogenetic trees and other evolutionary icons to present standard Darwinism: the entire diversity of life on the planet emerged from a universal common ancestor through an unguided process of mutation and natural selection.
      6. Hominid Evolution:  The sixth module teaches that humans are products of the same unguided, natural process that produced the first life and all other creatures.
      7. Evolution of Technology:  The final module continues its portrayal of evolutionary history up to our present human civilization.  Students are shown the “timeline of major events throughout the history of technology in the context of the evolution of everything, beginning with the Big Bang about 15 billion years ago.”  They are assigned a poster project to show how technologies of the future may evolve.
            Nothing is mentioned in the final module, apparently, about the ultimate fate of mankind or the “heat death” of the universe in which all life, and rationality, presumably will have long ceased to exist.
    2. The Seven C’s of History:  A curriculum from Answers in Genesis, a private creationist organization funded primarily by private donations and no government grants, takes a very different approach to cosmic history.  The “Seven C’s” outline, first proposed by AIG president Ken Ham in one of his books (see article) also forms the “walk through history” structure of AIG’s Creation Museum that opened last year (05/26/2007).
      1. Creation:  The universe began as a purposeful act of an omnipotent, personal God.  The stars, the Earth, all life, the angels and mankind were created in the six days of creation outlined in Genesis 1.  Man and woman were created in the image of God.  They were rational and spiritual beings from the start.  The creation was good and innocent.
      2. Corruption:  The first human pair, Adam and Eve, believing a lie of Satan (who had previously led an angelic rebellion), disobeyed God and fell into sin, as described in Genesis 3.  This separated mankind from God and brought a curse upon the world.  Death came because of sin.  The first child committed the first murder.
      3. Catastrophe:  The world became filled with violence.  Only Noah believed God; he and his family were spared on the Ark (Genesis 6-9) while God judged the Earth with a world-wide Flood.  This had major consequences in geology and the subsequent environment for life after the survivors spread out over the earth.
      4. Confusion:  After the Flood, people again strayed from the Lord and sought to build their own pagan empire.  God confused their languages at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11).  This began the origin of separate nations, languages and cultures, as people separated from one another to the far reaches of the earth.  False religions sprung up – many with distant but corrupted memories of the Flood, and of the one true eternal Creator God.
      5. Christ:  Since the Fall (Genesis 3:15), God had promised a Redeemer, the “seed of the woman” who would crush the serpent Satan’s head.  In the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4), the promise of God’s prophets was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Luke 4:16-21).
      6. Cross:  God’s righteousness demands that sin be punished.  Christ took the punishment for man’s sin on himself at Calvary.  His sacrifice offered a full pardon for sin, and his resurrection demonstrated the power of God to raise from the dead all who have put their trust in him.
      7. Consummation:  The curse will be lifted at the end time when Christ returns in glory.  God will create a new heavens and a new earth, where the redeemed of all ages will rejoice with God forever.
    Augustine of Hippo was an influential Christian theologian and philosopher of the 5th century.  He was well acquainted with the pagan and secular worldviews of his age as well as the Biblical worldview.  In his classic The City of God, he contrasted the pagan and Christian views of reality by portraying them as two cities: the city of the pagans, and the city of God.
        The city of the pagans consists of people who live by their sense impressions alone.  Their philosophers build systems of the world from the imagination of their own hearts.  The common people fear natural and political disasters, such as the fall of Rome that had recently occurred in Augustine’s time, and face death without hope or with false hope.
        The city of God, Augustine said, consists of those who trust God’s revelation.  They live their earthly lives in hope of heaven, like Abraham, who “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).  They walk by faith convinced in the trustworthiness of God’s promises.
        The two cities are thriving in 2008 with zeal like that of a presidential campaign.  Both have a message, a mission, and the means to propagate their contrasting views of reality.
    Among the dozens of arguments that could be debated back and forth between these two opposite world views, let us consider just two: one piece of evidence, and one logical argument.  The logical argument is this: to argue anything, you need confidence in unseen realities that are true, universal, necessary and certain, such as the laws of logic, the validity of inductive and deductive reasoning, the correspondence theory of truth (that our sense impressions relate to an external reality), the correspondence of human rationality with truth, and the moral superiority of telling the truth instead of lying.  None of these things can evolve from an explosion of matter and energy in time.  Remember, they told us that this constitutes the “totality of all things that exist.”  So unless the evolutionists wish to violate their own principles by claiming that these intangibles are real, true, universal, necessary and certain (i.e., by plagiarizing from the theists), their world view has been falsified at the starting gate.
        Before getting into the piece of evidence, allow one aside on a practical note.  You see that the evolutionary world view is being promulgated by the government, corporations, and leading scientific and academic institutions.  If the previous argument makes sense to you, you may wonder how it is possible that so many smart people could believe a self-refuting proposition.  If that is a problem, read this article at AllAboutScience.org.  Consider also that the pagan, evolutionary worldview is ancient.  Most leading Greek and Roman philosophers were evolutionists – even those who believed in pagan gods, because to them, the gods evolved, too, from a primordial chaos.  Having a majority of leading intellectuals promoting the secularist world view, therefore, is as old as Rome or Babel – or the antediluvian world, for that matter.  Don’t be surprised.  Truth is not a function of majority vote, popularity, or political power.
    In our civilization, the Darwinists usurped the scientific institutions in the 19th century (01/14/2004 and 02/25/2007 commentaries) and have systematically marginalized the members of the city of God who had dominated scientific inquiry since Augustine.  So the evolutionists who control Big Science today should be considered no different from a situation where Druids, Gnostics or Epicureans were to wrest the institutions of power and portray themselves as the “scientists” or soothsayers of their day, and use public funds to promote their religion as the cultural truth.
        Realize that there is no possible way under heaven for mortals to know any of the cosmic evolutionary stories that were presented above in the secular diorama.  It amounts to a grand, sweeping creation myth for today’s secular culture.  The reigning shamans strive to maintain their power over the propaganda outlets.  That is why, as a minority of the population, they work so diligently with lawyers and special-interest groups to guarantee that the “accepted” cultural myth be inculcated, without contradiction, at the secular monasteries (public schools), where students are unwitting novitiates into the cult, and in the courts, academies, media and government institutions.  Otherwise the common-sense observation that design demands a Designer would be too obvious.
        Some of their methods for achieving and maintaining dominance are: shaming the opposition (see ridicule and intimidation), linking their doctrines with “science” (see association and bandwagon), refusing to seriously consider opposing arguments (see card stacking and sidestepping), and clouding the problems of their story in generalities (see glittering generalities and equivocation).  For other techniques see the Baloney Detector.
    Now, on to just one piece of evidence among many that could be raised in support of the city of God.  Without controversy, scholars know that the book of Isaiah was written long before Christ.  Regardless of what one thinks of the Old Testament, one cannot deny the book of Isaiah precedes the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth by at least a century and a half (liberal view) or seven centuries (conservative view), because a complete manuscript was found in its entirety in Cave 1 at Qumran when the pre-Christian Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947; portions of 21 other copies of Isaiah were subsequently found.  If you agree with this so far, now read the following excerpt from Isaiah carefully, and ask yourself, about whom is the prophet writing? (Isaiah 52:6-53:12).  Read the section now and come back.
        This is just one of dozens of Old Testament passages, beginning as far back as Genesis 3, that were fulfilled literally in Jesus Christ.  Jesus himself announced his presence as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (cf. Isaiah 61 and Luke 4).  More of these Old Testament prophecies are discussed in the recent DVD The Case for Christ.  They were powerful enough pieces of evidence, in combination with many other arguments and evidences from creation and history, to convince hardened skeptic Lee Strobel that the Bible’s world view was true.  In the film, he challenged viewers to make it a project to look at the evidence fairly, and come to a point of decision.
        You may not be ready to hang out with Ken Ham or other creationists, whom the media love to portray as Bible-thumping buffoons (as if media portrayals are any guide to how to think about things).  You may have many more questions about science and the Bible.  At least start considering what city you will call home.  Does anything else matter? (Isaiah 55).
    Next headline on:  EvolutionBible and TheologyCosmologySETI
      Botanical wonders from 2005: a plant that moves faster than a fly (01/27/2005); recipe for instant petrified wood (01/24/2005); one of nature’s supreme examples of nanoscale engineering (spinach: 01/24/2005); and a mind-boggling look at how plant cells operate a shipping and receiving system (01/01/2005).

    Solar System Super Snapshots   01/12/2008    
    Here are some of the most fascinating new images coming from spacecraft out there on duty – but they didn’t just come in on their own.  They are brought to you by highly intelligent and dedicated human beings: the navigators, instrument teams, deep space network engineers, flight controllers and scientists who gather and distribute the bountiful data manna from the heavens for the whole world to enjoy.

    1. Mars Rovers:  Spirit and Opportunity are celebrating their 4th anniversary this month (see mission page).  Latest images can be found on the press images page.  Spirit ended the old year with a dazzling panorama from its winter nesting ground (see caption).  Not to be outdone, the sibling rover Opportunity showed off its track record inside Victoria Crater (see press release).
          Incidentally, if you heard that a large meteor is headed for Mars, JPL’s near-earth-object watchers have now ruled out an impact.  See the press release from JPL.
    2. Saturn:  The poles of Saturn are hot.  This is the reverse of the pattern on Earth, and appears unrelated to the amount of sunlight hitting the pole, said a press release from Jet Propulsion Lab.  Also unexplained is the hexagon-shaped feature over the north pole; see larger image at Planetary Photojournal and the movie.
    3. Titan:  The Cassini spacecraft went lake-hunting over the south pole of Titan last month, wondering if it would find a similar lake-spotted landscape found at northern latitudes.  Here is the result: only a couple of candidate lakes.  Scientists are now wondering if the lakes migrate from one pole to the other for the Titanian winter.
          Note: the colors are interpretations of data from the Cassini radar.  Smooth areas are interpreted to be lakes, and are artificially colored blue in the image.  Radar, of course, has no color.
          Another radar image shows evidence of flowing liquid, probably runoff from methane storms.  The image looks similar to the descent photos taken by Cassini’s ride-along Huygens Probe, which landed three years ago this month.  Have you taken the wild ride with Huygens down to the surface?
    4. Epimetheus:  A little moon of Saturn, just outside the main rings, has taken quite a beating, as revealed in a Cassini image.  One whole face seems bashed in by a giant impact that left a central peak on rebound.  The moonlet, about 72 miles in diameter, shows a variety of compositional materials and some geological processing, such as slumping of dark material.
    5. Ring moons:  Saturn’s two little ringsweeper moons, Daphnis and Pan, were revealed in a single image taken December 1.  Pan is the larger one, inside the Encke Gap; Daphnis, about 1/4 as large as Pan, plows through the center of the Keeler Gap.  If you look closely you can see how the gravitational tug of the moons distorts the surrounding ring material.  A movie from 2005 shows the action; see also the narrated version.
    6. Mars Odyssey:  The infrared orbiter Mars Odyssey has such a huge collection of images, it would be unfair to pick just one, but last June’s shot of flood-scoured terrain is certainly a keeper.  The thermal imager on Odyssey brings out much more information from the data, as seen in this sample thermal overlay.
          One of the more intriguing images from Odyssey last fall was the discovery of deep cave pits.  The press release says some of them are almost 800 feet across.  It was by measuring the temperature differences between day and night that scientists inferred these are deep holes, not impact craters.  They were found on the flanks of a large volcano.
    7. The Outer Limits:  Remember the never-say-die Voyagers?  They are still on duty at the farthest reaches of our solar system.  Their most recent achievement was to pass the heliosheath, where the solar wind impacts the interstellar medium.  From the two separate data points, scientists determined that our interstellar bubble is squashed (see artist conception), perhaps due to the interstellar wind from nearby stars. 
    8. Solar PolesUlysses, the solar polar mission, is in the middle of its third north-pole pass over our sun.  It’s arriving just in time to watch the fireworks of the new solar cycle begin; keep abreast of solar activity at SpaceWeather.com.
    9. Venus:  The European Space Agency’s Venus Express has been orbiting our sister world since April 2006, and now has a collection of science images and artworks on its multimedia page.
    10. True BlueRosetta has a ways to go on its mission to land on a comet in 2014, but it snapped this beautiful picture of home last November when just passing by.
    11. Mars in HD:  For sheer dazzlement, it’s hard to surpass the wonderful set of high-resolution images coming from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, affectionately known as “Mr. O”.  The HiRise Camera website, managed by the University of Arizona, can keep you occupied for hours or days.  Bookmark the link to the latest images for a weekly treat.  This magnificent camera can image things as small as a card table from orbit.
          The silver medal for orbital images goes to the European Space Agency’s Mars Express.  Its 3D oblique images are the next best thing to being a Martian.  Browse at length and put on a happy face.
    12. Encores:  Let your eyes be the spacecraft: Space.com listed comets that can be seen from Earth: Tuttle and Holmes.  And check out the postcard from Jupiter: a dazzling montage of Jupiter and erupting Io (10/15/2007) from last year’s encounter made Astronomy Picture of the Day for January 8.
    We are just 2 days away from Messenger’s first pass of Mercury (see Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab press release).  This should provide the first images of the innermost planet in over 30 years, since Mariner 10 gave mankind the first close-ups during three passes in 1974-1975.  Messenger will make three passes over Mercury in 2008-2009, finally settling into orbit in March, 2011.  Watch the Science Images page for the latest.
        What’s coming?  The Phoenix lander arrives at the Martian north polar cap on May 25.  Mars Science Laboratory, the next-generation super-rover, is being assembled now for launch in fall 2009.  Dawn is on the way to asteroids Vesta (2011) and Ceres (2015).  New Horizons is cruising beyond Jupiter for a 2015 encounter with Pluto.  And Cassini, after a daredevil fly-through of the Enceladus geysers on March 12, climbs into high-inclination orbit to celebrate the end of its prime mission on June 30 with stunning views high over Saturn.  But don’t mourn the end of a great ride; next day, July 1, Cassini begins its first multi-year extended mission – with perhaps another to follow, if all systems keep operating as well as they have since the 2004 arrival at Saturn.  Check out Cassini’s video collection.
        In short, there is plenty of spirit and opportunity in space flight to inspire a young generation of explorers to join the veterans.  There will be puzzles galore to solve and exotic places to visit for the first time.
    Once in awhile you have to lift up your eyes from the battles over evolution on earth and just take time to marvel at outer space.  We get to see things almost daily that earlier astronomers could only dream about.  Keep the dream alive – with a good hand-hold on reality.
        As you enjoy the alien worlds, keep in mind how lifeless and stark they are compared to the Earth.  A recent article on LiveScience said that our planet is right on the edge of habitability: “If Earth had been slightly smaller and less massive, life might never have gained a foothold.”  Were it not for just the right geosphere, atmosphere, and orbital distance, there would be no biosphere.  Human civilization, with all its ups and downs for over 6,000 years, has had a remarkably safe ride through the battleground of space (03/07/2007).  Of all people who have ever lived, we should be the ones to thank God the most for a privileged planet that permits – and promotes – both habitability and scientific discovery.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemAmazing Facts
    NAS Booklet Gets Its Counterpunch   01/11/2008    
    Recommended Reading:  Dr. Cornelius Hunter, Author of Darwin’s God, Darwin’s Proof and Science’s Blind Spot is reviewing the newly-revised NAS booklet Science, Evolution and Creationism at Access Research Network.
    It’s so well written, we are speechless.  Dr. Hunter has saved us a lot of work, because the NAS booklet was crying out for rebuttal.  This response is timely, thought-provoking and valuable.  Print it out for teachers who received the NAS propaganda.
    Next headline on:  Darwinism and Evolutionary TheoryIntelligent Design
    Monarch Butterflies as a Test of Evolution   01/11/2008    
    The Discovery Institute and the National Academy of Sciences have recently published books with butterflies prominently displayed on the cover.  The two books give opposite viewpoints on whether life was designed or a product of evolution.  Maybe a look at a real-world butterfly research project can shed light on the debate.
        A paper in PLoS Biology studied the clock mechanism behind the migrating Monarch butterfly.1  A team from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, with an entomologist from the Czech Academy of Sciences, investigated the proteins that compose the butterfly’s circadian clock.  These proteins, called cryptochromes, are part of a feedback mechanism that takes input from the sun and acts as a time-compensated sun compass.  Remarkably, two of the proteins seem to come from different families: CRY1 is invertebrate-like, and CRY2 is vertebrate-like.  They summarized their findings as follows:
    Collectively, our results provide several lines of evidence suggesting that monarch CRY1 functions in vivo as a circadian photoreceptor, whereas CRY2 functions as a transcriptional repressor for the butterfly clockwork.  This novel clock mechanism has aspects of both the Drosophila and mouse circadian clocks rolled into one, as well as unique aspects of its own.
    The paper used the word novel quite a few times to describe this mechanism: i.e., “The results define a novel, CRY-centric clock mechanism in the monarch in which CRY1 likely functions as a blue-light photoreceptor for entrainment, whereas CRY2 functions within the clockwork as the transcriptional repressor of a negative transcriptional feedback loop.”
        Did evolutionary theory provide any of the motivation behind this paper?  Did it offer explanatory power?  Only one instance of the word could be found:
    Further molecular evolutionary studies have shown that gene duplication and loss have led to three modes of cry gene expression in insects, giving rise to three types of circadian clocks: two derived clocks, in which only cry1 (e.g., Drosophila) or cry2 (e.g., the honey bee Apis mellifera and red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum) is expressed, and an ancestral clock in which both cry1 and cry2 are expressed (e.g., the monarch butterfly).  The expression of two functionally distinct crys in monarchs suggests that the butterfly clock may use a novel clockwork mechanism that is not yet fully described in any organism.
    Yet this refers to other papers, not this one.  It merely assumes that another research team got it right when they used circumstantial evidence to associate genes and transcription patterns with presumed gene-duplication events.  The authors did not find an evolutionary pattern themselves; instead, it is clear that what they found was a novel mechanism dissimilar to that in any other organism.  Functionally speaking, bees and beetles have different lifestyles.  They do not migrate thousands of miles to a particular spot in Mexico.
        In short, the single reference to evolution seemed tacked-on.  It provided neither motivation nor an explanation of the question: how the monarch butterfly arrived at a novel solution to the problem of managing a time-compensated sun compass that allows it to migrate successfully over long distances.  Furthermore, an evolutionary conundrum was evident in the data: “The role of monarch CRY2 as a transcriptional repressor is similar to the role of the CRYs in the mouse clockwork.”  The authors did not begin to explain why the butterfly protein resembles that of a vertebrate with which it has no obvious evolutionary connection, except through some remote, imaginary common ancestor that neither migrated to Mexico nor explored kitchens at night looking for cheese.  Evolution did not explain how clockwork mechanisms arose in the first place, nor why two species with very different evolutionary trajectories would converge on similar designs.
        Did intelligent design provide any input to this research?  The authors did not use that phrase, of course, but engineering language pervaded the paper.  “Clock mechanism” was one of the most common phrases in the paper – a term that raises the ghost of William Paley.  Consider also terms like autoregulatory transcription feedback loop, circadian photoreceptor, and transcriptional repressor.  These all related to engineering functions within a complex system.  Indeed function was another of the most common words in the paper.
        As to motivation for this research, a desire to reverse-engineer a complex system seemed to be the driving force – not a desire to figure out how it evolved.  The “spectacular fall migration” of these insects is a present-day observational fact that drove these scientists to investigate, in detail, how it is accomplished.  “The monarch clock may be the prototype of a clock mechanism shared by other invertebrates that express both CRY proteins,” the Author’s Summary states, “and its elucidation will help crack the code of sun compass orientation.”
        This paper was summarized on National Geographic News.  Here, too, evolution was only in the shadows.  The focus was on understanding a remarkable system.  The motivation is clear in a quote by Stephen M. Reppert, one of the team members: “A butterfly’s brain is no bigger than the head of a pin, and yet it has this incredible capability.  So we really want to understand that.”
    1.  Zhu, Sauman et al, “Cryptochromes Define a Novel Circadian Clock Mechanism in Monarch Butterflies That May Underlie Sun Compass Navigation,” Public Library of Science: Biology, Vol. 6, No. 1, e4 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060004.
    Discoveries like this are usually made by knocking out genes and watching what happens, or making proteins fluoresce green so they can be followed.  Imagine trying to study a car by knocking out parts to see what breaks.  Take out the oxygen sensor, or the PCV valve, or whatever; is this the best way to understand a system?  What is coming is systems biology in which each part is studied in relation to the whole.  Only by seeing the system in its functional entirety can you understand the contribution of the parts.
        Even so, there is a gap in understanding still.  How can a protein molecule help a butterfly migrate thousands of miles, some of it over trackless ocean, and arrive at a precise mountain in Mexico it has never seen?  Something is missing even if we were to thoroughly understand how each part works.  If you were to step inside a human brain and see all the neurons firing and chemoreceptors operating, you would still be ignorant of what the person was thinking.  Can the spectacular flight of Monarch butterflies be reduced to the action of proteins and genes?  The question underscores the mind-body problem, a philosophical puzzle unsolveable by reductionist science.
        In theory, nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.  In practice, biology is the study of complex systems that give the appearance of intelligent design.  It gives you butterflies just thinking about all the wonders in nature that showcase design.  Evolutionary theory provides nothing but fluff after the work is done, fluttering about to satisfy the religion of certain people that everything in the world must have a materialist explanation.  Get real: science is an intelligently designed activity by intelligently designed humans studying intelligently designed phenomena.  What’s evol got to do with it?
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyEvolutionIntelligent Design
    Stem Cells: It’s a New Ball Game   01/10/2008    
    A year ago, the ethical battle over human embryonic stem cells was raging.  Now, both Science and Nature have acknowledged that the new induced pluripotent stem cell technology (see 11/20/2007) has opened up a new era that may make embryonic stem cells practically obsolete.
        Martin Pera, writing in Nature1, left open only a slight possibility of a need for embryonic cells.  Most of his praise was for the new technology:
    The work of Park and colleagues, together with the related studies, proves beyond doubt that direct reprogramming is an efficient way of generating human pluripotent stem cells from adult cells.  The results raise the hope that, one day, iPS cells might fulfil much of the promise of human embryonic stem cells in research and medicine.  The generation of iPS cells through direct reprogramming avoids the difficult ethical controversies surrounding the use of embryos for deriving stem cells.  The added advantage of direct reprogramming is that it enables patient-specific stem cells to be obtained for studying human disease and for tissue matching in transplantation.  What is more, virtually any laboratory capable of carrying out the required cell-culture techniques can now perform direct reprogramming of adult cells.  So the year 2008 promises to be very exciting for researchers interested in pluripotent stem-cell biology.
    Jose Cibelli, in Science,2 asked if therapeutic cloning research is dead.  “The ability to generate pluripotent stem cells directly from skin fibroblasts may render ethical debates over the use of human oocytes to create stem cells irrelevant,” the article summary stated.  The breakthrough research papers by Yu et al and Hanna et al were published in the same December 21 issue.  Cibelli charted the advantages of induced and embryonic stem cells.  Some benefits remain to be determined, and some problems remain to be solved.  He ended with qualified optimism:
    Is human therapeutic cloning no longer needed?  The short answer is no, but it is likely a matter of time until all the hypothetical advantages of therapeutic cloning will be implemented with induced pluripotent stem cells.  More importantly, the controversial issues (ethical and technical) specific to human therapeutic cloning may well be left behind along with the procedure itself, a refreshing change for the field, indeed.
    This week, PhysOrg reported that the new reprogrammed stem cells taken from human skin, “indistinguishable from stem cells taken from human embryos,” may provide treatments within 10 years.  The breakthrough has created a race: “the new technology is so simple that many laboratories are competing to make further breakthroughs.”  Pluripotent stem cells have the potential of recreating any of the 220 cell types in the human body.  Shinya Yamanaka, leader of one of the teams that achieved the success, said of the competition, “I think it’s very good for patients who are waiting” for new treatments.
        Work on embryonic cells has not ceased, however.  PhysOrg reported on work by Robert Lanza to extract stem cells without killing the embryo.  He is not convinced the induced adult cells will become the magic bullet.  Some ethicists, however, still see ethical problems with his technique, because it “places at risk the health and life of a human embryo for purposes that do not directly benefit the embryo.”
        The article quoted the head of the new California Institute of Regenerative Medicine claiming that the most common stem cell source will be the new, ethically-sound, induced pluripotent cells from adult skin.  A survey last month found widespread support for non-embryonic stem cells, reported Science Daily.
    1.  Martin F. Pera, “Stem cells: A new year and a new era,” Nature 451, 135-136 (10 January 2008) | doi:10.1038/451135a.
    2.  Jose Cibelli, “Is Therapeutic Cloning Dead?”, Science, 21 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5858, pp. 1879-1880, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153229.
    It is certainly gratifying to see scientists using their intelligent design to achieve a highly desirable goal without the need for morally reprehensible means.  The degree to which ethical concerns of the culture restrained the unbridled ambitions of scientists seems clear.
        Science is not a free rein to do anything and everything that is possible.  The rhetoric of the past indicated that not only individual researchers, but the leaders of the scientific institutions, were intent on pushing their agenda past the objections of the public (e.g., 10/13/2006, 07/31/2006).  Pro-ES cell scientists routinely tried to characterize the opposition as narrow-minded religious dogma, as if Pig Science could be trusted to be free of ambition (05/09/2007, bullet 3).  Nothing stopped them from spending their own money, but they insisted the public had to pay for it.
        Two years ago, the Hwang scandal exhibited the ugly ambition behind some of the research (02/05/2006).  Without the ethical pressure brought to bear early on against killing embryos for research, another atrocity may have become as routine as abortion is today.  Thank God there is a new pathway through the morass that may satisfy everyone.  This is a technology to watch in 2008.  Keep your eyes open and the pressure on.  Knowledge is power.  Righteousness keeps it under control.
    Next headline on:  HealthPolitics and EthicsCell Biology
      Naturalistic vitalism: getting engineering without an engineer, from 01/28/2004.

    Evo-Giants Battle Over Evo-Love   01/10/2008    
    Richard Dawkins and E. O. Wilson, both atheistic evolutionists, are at odds over the evolution of unselfish love (altruism).  Wilson attributes it to a revised form of group selection; Dawkins to individual selection (the basis of his “selfish gene” theory).
        Evolutionists see no difference between the “eusociality” in insect colonies, in which individuals sacrifice themselves for the good of the colony, and human patriotism.  Wilson wrote up a survey in the journal Bioscience that questioned the traditional kin selection theory, according to EurekAlert.  Many considered group selection a dead issue.  Wilson himself admitted that “If you look at the literature of the theory, there are a lot of impressive-looking mathematical models but they scarcely ever come up with a real measure of anything that can be applied to nature.”  In his article, he came up with a revised model of kin selection to explain altruism.
        This has not pleased Richard Dawkins, according to an article in the UK Independent.  Dawkins thinks Wilson’s new approach is misleading and vacuous.  To Dawkins, kin selection is just an artifact of individual selection.  Wilson has fallen into a trap of misunderstanding natural selection at the gene level.  The rhetoric between these two giants among evolutionary theorists got heated when Dawkins said, “Evidently Wilson’s weird infatuation with ‘group selection’ goes way back; unfortunate in a biologist who is so justly influential.”
        Wilson stood his ground in the battle royale: “I am used to taking the heat, and in the past I turned out to be right,” he said.  Evolutionary theory has had particular trouble with explaining why humans will sacrifice for other people they don’t even know, or for animals.

    Maybe they would learn more about altruism by practicing it.  It might dawn on them that it could not have evolved.  Give up the weird infatuation with evolutionary theory, gentlemen; you both know that your impressive-looking mathematical models scarcely ever come up with a real measure of anything that can be applied to nature.  Who said that?
    Next headline on:  Evolution
    Dinosaur Fossil Shows Exquisite Skin Detail   01/09/2008    
    More imaginary feathers on a dinosaur have been discovered.  A BBC News article shows a cartoon of a dinosaur with feathers on its arms.  This is strange, because the paper it refers to makes no claim about feathers – only that certain structures had been interpreted as feathers by some.
        The original paper by Theagarten Lingham-Soliar (U of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) described a Psittocosaur from China that is remarkable in one respect: it exhibits dinosaur skin in cross section with the finest detail ever found.  Published in the Proceedings B of the Royal Society,1 the paper says that “Also, for the first time in a dinosaur two fibre layers parallel to the skin surface are preserved deep within the dermis at the base of the cross section.”  Collagen at least 25 layers deep – maybe 40 layers deep – suggests that the skin of this species was tough and rigid, providing protection for internal organs.  Tooth marks from a possible predator attack were also found.  For these reasons, the author said this specimen “gives a remarkable, unprecedented understanding of the dinosaur skin.”  It should, therefore, provide an ideal case for a feather hunt.
        The BBC report made overt claims about feathers in addition to its cartoon: “The plant-eating Psittacosaurus had a thick layer of shark-like skin hidden under scales or feathers.”  The caption said, “Some scientists believe a number of dinosaurs had feathers.”  Another quote hedged a little: “Soft tissues such as skin are rarely preserved in the fossil record, leading to heated debate over what dinosaurs looked like, and whether they were covered in primitive feathers or scales.”
        What did the original paper say about feathers?  Not much.  The only relevant statement was, “To date, all integumental structures described in dinosaurs, whether interpreted as ‘protofeathers’ or structural fibres, occur on the surface of the animal or on adjacent substrate.”    A look at the references for such interpretations showed two for and two against.  The most recent paper in the references was by Feduccia and Wang denying that so-called feathers are anything more than degraded collagen fibers.  The only other comment about feathers in the paper was about the uniqueness of bird skin: “A generalization of the primary functional role of the dermis in the protection and/or support for the enclosed body mass may be extended to most vertebrates with the possible exception of birds, wherein the dermis plays a unique role with respect to feather attachments.”  Nothing in the paper, therefore, supported the claim that the well-preserved skin of this Psittocosaur had feathers, despite the BBC’s depiction.
    Update 01/10/2008: The author of the paper denies that these are feathers.  Roger Highfield, reporting for the UK Telegraph, found out that the point of Theagarten Lingham-Soliar’s paper was to refute the notion that the collagen dermis layers contain proto-feathers.  Here is what he told the Daily Telegraph:
    Scientists must really now choose – belief in the nebulous idea of protofeathers or the reality of collagen, the dominant protein in vertebrates.
        I am convinced from the nonsense spouted by many of the people who denounce collagen in favour of protofeathers that they have never actually seen collagen in its natural or decomposing state.
    Lingham-Soliar also denies that Sinosauropteryx, a turkey-size dinosaur unearthed in 1994, had feathers.  He thinks, instead, that the impressions were remains of collagen that supported a dorsal frill running down the head and back.
        Highfield ended his article, “Although the new work will not challenge the link between birds and dinosaurs it will lead to a fundamental rethink of why feathers evolved in the first place.
    1.  Theagarten Lingham-Soliar, “A unique cross section through the skin of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus from China showing a complex fibre architecture,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B, ISSN: 0962-8452 (Paper) 1471-2954 (Online), Issue: FirstCite Early Online Publishing; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1342.
    The evolutionary flights of fancy in the news media are irresponsible and detrimental to scientific objectivity.  Here was another media flap by the BBC, trying to pull imaginary feathers out of leathery skin, because they so wish for dinosaurs to be the ancestors of birds (compare 06/13/2007).  The Telegraph article was more fair, but still clung to the link between dinosaurs and birds as if that belief is too sacrosanct for evidence.
        The reporters and scientists should have been questioning the 70 million years during which this specimen supposedly lay there, its skin exquisitely preserved down to the collagen fibers for all that time.  The carcass of a cow, deer or bird will decay to the bone in months.  The conditions under which such “extraordinary preservation” occurred, and a reappraisal of the dating, should be the first item of business.
    Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsBirds
    Blind Cave Fish Can See Again   01/08/2008    
    Can blind cave fish get their lost eyes back?  Yes, if they hybridize with other cave fish that lost them due to different mutations.  An article on Science Daily described experiments at New York University that showed that the progeny of two independent cave populations could have fully functioning eyes.  Why?  Because “the genetic deficiencies in one lineage are compensated for by strengths in the other, and vice-versa.”
        Nearly 40 percent of the progeny from their crossing experiments could see again, even though the scientists believe the fish populations had independently lost their vision a million years ago.  Getting back functioning eyesight means that not only the eyeballs came back, but “all the connections to the brain for proper processing of information not used for that enormous length of time are restored.
        Professor Richard Borowsky at NYU, who published his research in Current Biology,1 attributed this to evolution.  “Evolution has many ways to accomplish the same end result, which in the case of cave fish is blindness.”  Yet loss of function is not the same as gaining functional eyes in the first place.  The loss of sight was apparently due to non-overlapping mutations in the two populations.  The same was true for loss of pigment.  National Geographic’s report on the regeneration of sight in blind cave fish began, “It’s a miracle!”  Borowsky calmly stated, “Evolution’s palette is varied.”
    1.  Richard Borowsky, “Restoring sight in blind cavefish,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 8 January 2008, Pages R23-R24.
    There are a hundred ways to break a car, but only one way to build it: intelligent design.  Attributing blindness to evolution is like attributing a car crash to Ford.  (On second thought, maybe we had better say BMW.)
        Getting a broken car back into working condition by blending parts from two broken cars also takes intelligent design.  The Creator put built-in redundancy into pairs of chromosomes, and scattered the functionality across genes to reduce the probability of a single point of failure.  In the cave environment, the usefulness of eyes and pigment was lost.  This suggests that functioning organs involve a cost that is burdensome when the benefit is gone (see 02/16/2007).
        Natural selection can jettison useless baggage.  That premise is not controversial even among staunch creationists.  A television set is a nice benefit unless you are a hiker trying to carry one through a snowstorm.  Getting eyes back without the input of complex specified information, or getting a new TV to emerge from the snow, is a completely different claim.  Creationists might ask an additional question that did not occur to these researchers.  How plausible is it that useless but costly genetic information was retained for a million years, only to become fully functional again in one generation?
        The only way these fish were able to see again was that the genetic information for eyes and all the brain wiring was available in the union of data sets from the two populations, and could be reconstructed by the elaborate quality control mechanisms designed into development.  The 40% who could see were the lucky ones who got all the information in their zygotes.
        To call this evolution, let’s see them experiment with one blind population, and find out whether functioning eyesight, complete with all the brain wiring, emerges from scratch via genetic mutations alone.  Darwin is good at breaking things, not designing them.  Random mutation is the way an eye goes blind – and a Mercedes bends.
    Next headline on:  Fish and Marine LifeEvolutionGenetics
    The Evolutionary Inference   01/07/2008    
    Today’s Darwinian Just-So Story comes from a paper in PNAS.1  Three Italian scientists did experiments on the perception of two-day old human infants.  They found that the babies tended to pay more attention to biological motion than non-biological motion, and looked longer at right-side-up displays than upside-down ones.  Their conclusion: “These data support the hypothesis that detection of biological motion is an intrinsic capacity of the visual system, which is presumably part of an evolutionarily ancient and nonspecies-specific system predisposing animals to preferentially attend to other animals.”  Previously, the inborn disposition to watch biological motion had only been demonstrated in one other animal: the chicken.
    1.  Simion, Regolin and Bulf, “A predisposition for biological motion in the newborn baby,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, published online before print January 3, 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0707021105.
    Observation: babies prefer looking at biological motion.  Conclusion: Once upon a time, in an ancient swamp, an animal emerged that could not survive unless it followed its mother.  Over millions and millions of years, these became chickens and babies.  Isn’t science wonderful?  If the publishers of science fiction or children’s books reject your manuscript, the elite intellectuals at the National Academy will welcome you with open arms, and the NCSE will bless you for adding to the mountains of evidence for evolution with which to bury the creationists.
    Next headline on:  Human BodyEvolutionDumb Ideas
    Evolutionists Scare Presidential Voters   01/06/2008    
    What will doom the United States?  A nuclear war?  Islamic terrorism?  An economic depression?  No: the doomsday agent will be a creationist president, said an AFP article posted on PhysOrg.  It was published internationally as far as Japan and Turkey.
        The scare rhetoric came at the launching of an updated book on creationism by the National Academy of Sciences, which seems to have forgotten that their own founding member and second president, Joseph Henry, was a creationist (see August 2007 Scientist of the Month).
        Gilbert Omenn and Francisco Ayala, part of the coalition of scientific academies that denounced creationism last week (01/02/2008), repeatedly linked belief in evolution to scientific progress in their remarks:
    • The logic that convinces us that evolution is a fact is the same logic we use to say smoking is hazardous to your health or we have serious energy policy issues because of global warming.  I would worry that a president who didn’t believe in the evolution arguments wouldn’t believe in those other arguments either.  This is a way of leading our country to ruin. [Omenn]
    • Scientific inquiry is not about accepting on faith a statement or scriptural passage.  It’s about exploring nature, so there really is not any place in the science classroom for creationism or intelligent design creationism. [Omenn]
    • We don’t teach astrology as an alternative to astronomy, or witchcraft as an alternative to medicine.  We must understand the difference between what is and is not science.  We must not teach creationism as an alternative to evolution. [Ayala]
    Omenn added that having religious beliefs is not incompatible with believing in evolution; it’s just that “religion and science are two different ways of knowing about the world.”  He subscribes to the late Stephen Jay Gould’s description of the difference as “non-overlapping magisteria” in that “They might not be incompatible but they don’t overlap each other’s spheres.”  Because of this, he concluded that “Science class should not contain religious attitudes.”
        Governor Mike Huckabee’s public confession that he did not believe in evolution provided the lightning rod that occasioned the comments.  The article provided no opportunity for Darwin doubters to respond, but the Discovery Institute, #2, #3 and Answers in Genesis posted responses on their websites.  The AFP press release also made the following judgment without a trial: “The evolution versus creationism debate has crept into American schools and politics, where it is mainly conservative Republicans who espouse the non-scientific belief.”
    Here we go again; more screaming by the bratty kids (01/02/2008 commentary).  When they cannot get their way with scholarship and reason, they go back to their bad habits of ridicule, fear-mongering, bandwagon, loaded words, false dichotomies, generalities and begging the question.  About the only finding of substance evident in their latest tantrum is that most Darwinists are political liberals.
        There is hardly any philosopher of science today, except for card-carrying members of the Darwin Party KGB, who holds to the myth of the warfare between science and religion.  Everyone knows that this was a contrived and distorted viewpoint that was promulgated by Draper and White in the 19th century for less than impartial reasons.  Some, like Lawrence Principe at Johns Hopkins, consider the warfare thesis laughable – even though he is an evolutionist.  He and many others defend the many and substantive contributions made to science by people of strong religious conviction.
        Today’s belligerent Darwinists usually rephrase the warfare thesis, like Omenn did above, in euphemistic terms.  “Having religious beliefs is not incompatible with believing in evolution,” they will allow, but the two must never mix.  In their interpretation, this reconstitution of the warfare thesis means something like, “We can’t stop you from believing in fairy tales if you must – just keep them out of the science lab.”  They may even graciously admit that religion is nice (sometimes).  They may showcase People of Fluffy Faith within the Darwin Party.  They are very tolerant of religion so long as Darwin reigns supreme.  As with Plessy vs Ferguson, claims of “separate but equal” usually are contradicted by reality.
    Parallels.  In the communist Soviet Union, Kruschev gave the Christians a licensed church, in which the sermons were censored and membership tightly controlled, so that he could show off to the press and visiting Western diplomats how tolerant toward religion was the Soviet totalitarian dictatorship.  Of course, he gave the church members not one shred of influence in policy, and apart from the peering eyes of Western reporters, routinely imprisoned pastors and turned unlicensed churches into museums of atheism.  North Korea does the same thing today but is even more brutal.
    In the modern science vs. religion warfare thesis, religious attitudes are contrasted with scientific facts.  The methods of science, they say, require explanations based purely on natural causes, even if one believes in “God.”  As Phillip Johnson has observed, though, holding to such a principle basically rules out a priori anything for a God to do.  If God is relegated to a nebulous sphere of religious belief as opposed to the world of observation and evidence, then his hands are tied from intervening in the world in any real way – from answering prayer, designing anything, or changing anything.  It’s de facto atheism, notwithstanding their peace pipe offered with the chant that religion can provide a way of “knowing about the world.”  (Johnson has also described the two-platoon strategy of Darwinists when discussing religion, a quote worth re-reading at this time in the 01/14/2002 commentary.)  The Darwinists show tolerance to religion only so long as they can keep an iron grip on the keys to knowledge of the “real” world.  As we illustrated in the 11/05/2006 entry and commentary, this amounts to giving away the toys while keeping the guns.  The person with the guns is the one who really owns the toys.
        If the NOMA concept (non-overlapping magisteria, that science and religion are separate, non-overlapping spheres of “knowing about the world”) has you snookered and dumbfounded, take time out for a little re-education.  NOMA is not a statement of science.  It is a statement of philosophy about science.  No discovery in a lab, using any scientific method you wish to define, will establish the veracity of NOMA.  It is a presupposition.  It is a belief that is chosen in advance before any scientific work is done.
        Moreover, NOMA is self-refuting.  All philosophers admit that no one comes into the lab with a blank slate free of bias.  Despite the NAS booklet’s claim that science is based on testable evidence instead of faith, every scientist approaches his or her work with presuppositions that are philosophical or religious in nature, and that cannot be defended scientifically.  Even concepts as basic as induction (that what has happened up till now will continue happening in the future), causation (that sequences of experiences constitute cause-and-effect relationships), the correspondence theory of truth (that our experiences correspond to an objective reality), the legitimacy of analogy by modeling (that something I simplify in a model has relevance to the more complex phenomenon I’m investigating) and the progress of knowledge (that scientific methods bring us progressively closer to the “Truth” about reality) are all accepted by – and here is the operative word – FAITH.
        A scientist chooses those presuppositions that allow him or her to operate according to the social and traditional norms of what are called “scientific activity.”  In many cases these practices have been extremely productive.  In some, they have not (e.g., cosmology, Darwinism, and repeated overturns of psychology).  The track record of science is of no help here.  Even if you claim that practicing the traditional norms has been useful and productive, you are still espousing philosophy by faith (in this case, pragmatism).  You cannot prove by empirical means that “If it works, it is true.”  This opens up a huge can of worms philosophically that has not been resolved since Socrates.  There are plenty of examples of practices that have been useful but probably false.  Ptolemaic astronomy and alchemy were quite useful in their heyday.
        Modern civilization just got through an era of “science wars” in the 1990s that strongly questioned the objectivity of science.  (These battles were completely separate from the critiques of evolution by the intelligent design movement.)  The outcome was more a standoff than a definitive victory by the scientific societies.  What it demonstrated was that the social constructivists and relativists have just as self-refuting a position as the scientific realists.  Neither side had claims to objectivity.  The scientific societies just had more staying power in the ring, not any knockout punch.  Thomas Kuhn and other critics of scientific objectivity by most accounts made some errors and went too far in some cases.  Their criticisms, however, cannot be completely dismissed.  They raised serious and fundamental questions that actually echo philosophical issues debated by the Greeks and by great thinkers throughout the ages – essentially as far back as civilization itself.  The Darwinists bluff their way past these issues, hoping the public will simply trust their claim to have the best way to get at the Truth.  They are like modern secular Magi following the star of their own minds.
        In short, the Darwinists define science with presuppositions that are essentially religious in nature and are accepted on faith.  Their characterization of science and religion as non-overlapping spheres is thus a false dichotomy.  Now, ponder for a minute where their so-called scientific presuppositions come from.  What kind of foundational belief system will justify the validity of inductive and deductive reasoning, the perceptibility of causes and effects, the correspondence theory of truth, the regularity of nature, the validity of the laws of logic, and the viability of knowledge gained by human reason and sense experience?  You guessed it—Judeo-Christianity!  You cannot get there from paganism, Buddhism, pantheism, animism, or any of the other ancient world religions or philosophies.  You especially cannot get there from the atheism or evolutionary philosophy held to with such conviction by Omenn and Ayala.  Why?  Because a material, evolving world can neither define nor defend immaterial, eternal, universal concepts like truth, reason or virtue.  If such things evolved, there would be no way to know this; besides, they could un-evolve tomorrow.  Only the Judeo-Christian world view provides the preconditions of intelligibility needed for science.
        The surprising conclusion is that the Darwin Party KGB, like an army of the night with their NAS booklets held high (to invert a metaphor from Isaac Asimov), are plagiarizing the Bible in spite of themselves.  If we insisted that they “get their own dirt” (see joke) and build their own philosophical presuppositions from scratch, their entire superstructure of belief would collapse.
        This is why we said back in the 01/27/2003 commentary that the Darwin Party’s arguments are like an army of noisy but silly orcs holding their swords backwards by the blades.  The handles are pointed at us and the tips are pointed at their own hearts.  The way to defeat the seemingly insurmountable horde is to simply push on the handles.  It’s an easy job, but it does take personnel.  Without enough people to push on the handles, the few playing defense could be clubbed to death by the sheer number of blunt handles coming at them simultaneously.  The orcs won’t feel the sting of self-refutation unless you help push.  Once their front line sees what is happening to them, they will be forced to lay down their swords and talk surrender.  Orcs are silly, though (due to decades of brainwashing), so expect the casualties to be high before reality dawns on them.
    Next headline on:  EvolutionPoliticsEducationDumb Ideas
      Why snow turns pink, and why that’s interesting, from 01/07/2003.

    Two Fossil Explosions Are Better than One   01/05/2008    
    “If one is good, two is better” might work with cookies, but not with headaches.  Evolutionary paleontologists have just gotten a second headache and seem almost happy about it.  How can this be?  Read this article in Science Daily to learn how some evolutionists seem to be masochists.  As if the Cambrian Explosion were not a big enough problem for Darwinian gradualistic views (04/23/2006, 03/28/2007) here comes the Precambrian Explosion.
        Using the evolutionists’ geologic timescale, it appears that fossils of mysterious organisms called the Ediacaran biota appeared abruptly without precursors.  Although this problem has been known before (see 12/23/2002, 08/19/2004), a team of scientists from Virginia Tech decided to check out the paleontology and diversity of these organisms that appeared, diversified within limits, and then went extinct some 15 to 40 million years before the Cambrian “radiation” (a scientific euphemism for explosion).  They published their ‘dynamite’ results in Science.1  Because the Avalon group is the earliest of three assemblages of Ediacara, each of which appears abruptly, they dubbed the phenomenon of their sudden appearance “the Avalon explosion.”
        Nowhere did they account for this phenomenon in Darwinian terms.  Nor did they even consider pre-empting the charge that might surely come from creationists who would argue this amounts to a double falsification of evolutionary theory.  Instead, they began to see a pattern: if abrupt appearance is the norm, maybe this is how evolution works!  In the new view, evolution simply explodes life into morphospace (i.e., the space of possible body plans).  The final paragraph of the paper explains:

    What might have led to the rapid morphospace expansion in the Avalon assemblage, and what might have constrained the Ediacara morphospace from further expansion or shift in the subsequent White Sea and Nama assemblages?  We consider a long, undocumented period of Ediacara history before the Avalon assemblage to be unlikely.  The rapid increase of morphospace at the beginning of Ediacara evolution parallels the disparity patterns of the Cambrian explosion: a rapid evolution of body plans followed by taxonomic diversification within the limits of a predefined morphospace.  Various environmental, ecological, and developmental factors have been proposed to explain the rapid evolution of animal body plans during the Cambrian explosion, as well as to account for post-Cambrian constraints on modifications of these basic body plans despite taxonomic diversification.  In principle, these explanations may also be applied to the Avalon radiation.... Regardless of the veracity of these causative explanations, the marked parallels between the Cambrian and Avalon explosions suggest that the decoupling of taxonomic and morphological evolution is not unique to the Cambrian explosion and that the Avalon explosion represents an independent, failed experiment with an evolutionary pattern similar to that of the Cambrian explosion.
    The way one co-author put it, “Accelerated rates may characterize the early evolution of many groups of organisms.”  Evolution itself was never in any doubt.  Now they “know” that evolution works at accelerated rates.  Darwin had insisted that evolution was slow, operating by the “gradual accumulation of numerous, successive, slight modifications.”
        Science Daily indicated that the team was surprised at what they found.  “Surprisingly, ... these earliest Ediacara life forms already occupied a full morphological range of body plans that would ever be realized through the entire history of Ediacara organisms,” the article says.  They knew Charles Darwin had been concerned about the Cambrian explosion way back in the 19th century.  Now, here was another explosion just like it.  His branching tree pattern, or expanding cone of diversity, is wrong:
    “The explosive evolutionary pattern was a concern to Charles Darwin, because he expected that evolution happens at a slow and constant pace,” said Shuhai Xiao, associate professor of geobiology at Virginia Tech.  “Darwin’s perception could be represented by an inverted cone with ever expanding morphological range, but the fossil record of the Cambrian Explosion and since is better represented by a cylinder with a morphological radiation at the base and morphological constraint afterwards.”
    How can a cylinder with all the radiation at the base be reconciled with an evolutionary view?  The scientists did not attempt to answer that question.  “Scientists are still unsure what were the driving forces behind the rapid morphological expansion during the Avalon explosion,” the article ended.  Xiao commented, “But, one thing seems certain -- the evolution of earliest macroscopic and complex life also went through an explosive event before to [sic] the Cambrian Explosion.” 
    1.  Shen, Dong, Xiao and Kowalewski, “The Avalon Explosion: Evolution of Ediacara Morphospace,” Science, 4 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5859, pp. 81-84, DOI: 10.1126/science.1150279.
    OK, that’s it.  It’s over.  Darwinists, give up!  How many times does the evidence have to falsify your theory before you admit that this little worldview experiment was a bad trip?  We are no longer going to allow you to believe in free lunches (08/07/2007).
        For an experience in complete bewilderment at the propensity for the human mind to cling to a false belief, read the Science Daily article in its entirety.  This team of scientists has just seen a very non-evolutionary picture staring them in the face, and all they can see is evolution.  “Well, what do you know – evolution proceeds explosively instead of gradually!”  It’s enough to make one despair of the human condition.  To despair even more, ponder the fact that these falsifications of Darwinism keep appearing at the very time the Darwinists and all the leading scientific societies are on the warpath to stamp out all opposition to evolutionary teaching (see 01/02/2008 entry and a story on Evolution News).  The inmates are running the asylum.
        Cryptanalysts look at noise for evidence of a message.  Archaeologists look at markings to look for evidence of an intelligent culture.  Intelligent design scientists look at patterns in improbable structures for evidence of purposeful intent.  SETI scientists look at stellar noise for evidence of a signal.  Darwinists look at signals for evidence of noise.
    Next headline on:  FossilsDarwinismDumb Ideas
    New Planet, or Dusty Brown Dwarf?   01/04/2008    
    A planet has been found associated with a dusty disk, reported National Geographic News and Astrobiology.com.  This is “one of the most exciting discoveries in the study of extrasolar planets,” a Max Planck Institute researcher said, because they “have directly proven” that planets form from dust disks.  Moreover, they must form rapidly, because the planet cannot be older than its parent star, which is much younger – 8 to 10 million years – than other extrasolar planets found so far, they said.
        Previous estimates called for a hundred million of years or more for a planet to form.  Earth is thought to be 4.5 billion years old, with multicellular life appearing only in the last 0.5 billion.  This star, TW Hydrae, is 1/500th the age of the sun according to the scientists.  Dust disks are thought to evaporate within 30 million years, so it was reassuring for them to find a planet forming within the time limit.
        The NG News article mentioned some cautions.  For one thing, the giant planet is very close to the star and revolves around it every 3.5 Earth-days, with a mysterious disruption in the motion every nine days.  Also, the mass of the planet is in doubt.  Jack Lissauer (NASA-Ames) appreciated the discovery.  “However,” he said, “I do think that the authors have substantially underestimated the uncertainties in the mass of the object.”  If it is as big as a brown dwarf, that makes the combination a binary star system – a very common occurrence among stars.
    The astronomers have merely associated a dust disk with an orbiting object that is not observed but only inferred via wobbles in the parent star (circumstantial evidence).  Unless they explain how dust particles accrete into large bodies (a major problem in planetary physics; see 12/05/2007), they have not proved that this object emerged from the disk.  Perhaps it did, but the observations do not create an open-and-shut case.
        Astronomers do not know how stars form; they do not know how planets form (see 07/15/2005 entry and its embedded links).  They have not, therefore “directly proven” that planets form from dust disks.  Distinctions are important in science.  Reporters often charge into conclusions without proper warrant.  The astronomers’ claims may be plausible.  They might even be true.  Hypothesis, though, is not confirmation.  Let him who puts his armor on not boast like the one who takes it off.
        Alert readers must constantly beware of claims that go far beyond the evidence: the star “is” 8-10 million years old (no human observers watched it for that long).  The planet “is” about ten times as massive as Jupiter (it could be far smaller or far bigger).  “Its host star is still surrounded by the disk of gas and dust from which it was only recently born” (theories of planet birth are full of problems).  “This discovery allows scientists to draw important conclusions about the timing of planet formation”  (the conclusions are based on assumptions about the timing – circular reasoning).  “Finally, perhaps in the future we will be able to answer the question: Are we alone in the Universe?”  (How did they get there from a blip on a graph?)
    Next headline on:  Stars and Astronomy
    Do Monkeys Practice the Oldest Occupation?   01/04/2008    
    If monkeys do it, should it be outlawed?  A story on Fox News claims that male monkeys pay for sex.  The females make them pay up first: “The males use grooming as a form of currency to buy sex from the female,” a study by evolutionary biologists in Singapore concluded.
    And the point is?  Animals go through all kinds of courtship rituals, some much more elaborate than this.   Why do you suppose the researchers and the news media gave us this story, and used terms suggestive of prostitution?  Pure empirical science?  Knowledge for knowledge’s sake?
        A clue might be found in another monkeyshine story on the BBC News: monkeys laugh.  “What is clear now is the building blocks of positive emotional contagion and empathy that refer to rapid involuntary facial mimicry in humans evolved prior to humankind,” a researcher said.  How clear is that?  Maybe the monkeys are practicing for American Idol.  Maybe they are telling the other monkey to shut up.
        Darwinists are on a campaign to link everything about humans to monkeys, including our emotions, attitudes and sexual behaviors.  They think this will prove common ancestry.  No it won’t; creationists already acknowledge that humans have much in common with our creature friends.  We eat bananas, we scratch, we eliminate, we reproduce, some of us even climb trees.  So what?  Birds talk and use tools.  Does that mean we evolved from birds, or they from us?
        If monkeys like a good grooming before sex, is that any more remarkable than the courtship ritual of the sage grouse?  If monkeys like to screech and howl and curl their lips, is that any more remarkable than a dog wagging its tail?  The Darwinists are trying to make a point, and we know that all too well.
    Next headline on:  MammalsEthics
      Replication: a mechanism for the origin of life and evolution (01/31/2003)? or for robustness? (01/02/2003).  Genetic orphans (ORFs) don’t fit the gene-duplication theory – they are a growing puzzle for evolutionists (01/02/2003)

    Missing Links or Linking Misses?  The Case of the Fungus Crystal   01/03/2008    
    Another evolutionary missing-link claim showed up in the news recently.  The suggestive phrase “missing link” implies a chain with just one piece missing.  It also implies that the chain is visible from one end to the other.  Maybe a magic crystal from a fungus can help us visualize the chain.
        A “critical missing step” has been filled in by a fungus crystal, claimed a press release from Purdue University.  This crystal has magical powers: “The crystal structure of a molecule from a primitive fungus has served as a time machine to show researchers more about the evolution of life from the simple to the complex.”  How did this fungus achieve such power?  By helping evolutionary biologists “visualize how life progressed from an early self-replicating molecule that also performed chemical reactions to one in which proteins assumed some of the work.”
        What really happened?  Barbara Golden and Alan Lambowitz isolated a protein-RNA complex from the fungus Neurospora crassa and crystallized it to analyze its properties.  They did not really take a trip in a time machine.  “Obviously, we can’t see the process of moving from RNA to RNA and proteins and then to DNA, without a time machine,” Golden confessed.  “But by using this fungus protein, we can see this process occurring in modern life.
        All they really did, though, is observe a modern complex molecule and its analogue in related species – some of which lack certain of the adaptations seen in Neurospora.  The story of how the molecule acquired more complexity through an evolutionary process, from a hypothetical “RNA World” of primitive molecules, was all conjecture:

    “It’s thought that RNA, or a molecule like it, may have been among the first molecules of life, both carrying genetic code that can be transmitted from generation to generation and folding into structures so these molecules could work inside cells,” said Purdue structural biologist Barbara Golden.  “At some point, RNA evolved and became capable of making proteins.  At that point, proteins started taking over roles that RNA played previously – acting as catalysts and building structures in cells.”
    The language in this paragraph suggests purposeful behavior in molecules: role-playing, building, and making things.  This is disallowed in Darwin’s universe.
        In other organisms, RNA performs the work without the help of the protein.  The protein in Neurospora makes the reaction more efficient.  The presumption is that the simpler RNA came first and the complex RNA-protein later, but both organisms exist today and presumably have not changed for hundreds of millions of years, according to their own time scale.  But like Golden said, she could not see the process without a time machine.  An alternative hypothesis might be that the simpler organisms appeared at the same time but just got the economy version.  How would anyone know?
        Press releases from university research labs are often echoed verbatim on science news outlets.  That’s what happened with this story on EurekAlert and Science Daily, both of which reiterated the “missing link” theme.
    Paper View.
    Visions of time machines and magic crystals must have had more popular appeal than the original paper in Nature,1 entitled “Structure of a tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase splicing factor bound to a group I intron RNA.”  Does the actual paper support the evolutionary missing-link story?
        The molecule they studied appears to be pretty sophisticated.  “This RNA binding surface provides an extended scaffold for the phosphodiester backbone of the conserved [i.e., unevolved] catalytic core of the intron RNA, allowing the protein to promote the splicing of a wide variety of group I introns,” the paper states.  “The group I intron-binding surface includes three small insertions and additional structural adaptations relative to non-splicing bacterial TyrRSs, indicating a multistep adaptation for splicing function.”
        They still claimed that this fits the RNA-World scenario, because purportedly simpler organisms get by without these structural adaptations: “The co-crystal structure provides insight into how CYT-18 promotes group I intron splicing, how it evolved to have this function, and how proteins could have incrementally replaced RNA structures during the transition from an RNA world to an RNP [ribozyme with protein assist] world.”
        Yet the evolutionary story appeared tacked onto the end of the actual empirical work.  The actual molecule is one of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases which are able to translate the genetic code into the protein code (see 12/28/2006, bullet 3, and 06/09/2003).  These molecules have little tolerance for error (see 10/31/2007, bullet 3).  The particular synthetase examined in this paper actually has another trick up its sleeve.  It can also promote the splicing of mitochondrial group I introns, a process that expands the informational content of the genetic code.
        In their evolutionary story, they visualized how “an extended scaffold for the group I intron catalytic core developed in multiple steps on a previously unused protein surface in a relatively short period of evolutionary time.”  They noted that this ribozyme has a “distinctive genome surveillance mechanism” within this group of fungi, “that effectively prevents functional gene duplications and thereby limits evolutionary options.”  This seems like a quality-control mechanism that prevents evolution.
        They did not reach back prior to the existence of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases.  They assumed these complex, vital, functional molecular translators already existed.  Instead, they imagined how, with further research, evolutionary biologists might be able to imagine how they “can progressively acquire new functions and evolve to bind multiple structurally related RNAs.”

    A different press release, this time from Scripps Research Institute, also spoke of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase system.  They focused on the precision editing of the molecules, which have triple-redundant checkpoints for quality control.  Among the talk of instructions and information there was no mention of evolution, except for one inscrutable reference when discussing the importance of accurate protein synthesis: “It is unlikely such a robustly redundant system would have evolved, they say, if this were not the case.”  Grab a cup of coffee and think that one over.


    1.  Paukstelis, Lambowitz, Golden et al, “Structure of a tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase splicing factor bound to a group I intron RNA,” Nature 451, 94-97 (3 January 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06413.
    Here was another example of evolutionists taking a tiny bit of boringly detailed empirical data, irrelevant to the Darwinian tale, and making a snowball out of it.  They rolled it down the hill of speculation till it grew into a house-sized story with which to snow the public.
        These people did not get into a time machine.  They did not perform divination with a magic crystal.  As devotees of the Cult of the RNA World, despite all its problems (07/11/2002), they were compelled by the cult ritual to weave their observations into the myth of the watery sipapu from which their race emerged.  Some ritual smoke and chanting enhanced the hallucination.
        In short, their missing link turned out to be one piece of real data inserted into a chain of imagination and speculation.  Would you be impressed if we held up a modern propane camp stove and called it a missing link from space aliens who brought primitive mankind the knowledge of fire?  Suppose we reinforced our claim by showing cheaper models that lacked a flint starter.  Q.E.D., we say.  Phooey, you reply.
        Learn to see through the hype and expose the Darwinist flimflam for what it is.  If they aim to shoot down intelligent design, they are making all misses and no hits.  Linking misses together doesn’t improve the score.
    Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryCell Biology
    Yet Another Dinosaur Extinction Theory: Bugs   01/03/2008    
    A press release from Oregon State claims that insects may have finished off the dinosaurs.  Two main reasons were given for this hypothesis: (1) the extinction coincides with the rise of flowering plants and their pollinators, and (2) the impact theory has serious problems.
    “There are serious problems with the sudden impact theories of dinosaur extinction, not the least of which is that dinosaurs declined and disappeared over a period of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years,” said George Poinar Jr., a courtesy professor of zoology at Oregon State University.  “That time frame is just not consistent with the effects of an asteroid impact.  But competition with insects, emerging new diseases and the spread of flowering plants over very long periods of time is perfectly compatible with everything we know about dinosaur extinction.”
    The theory actually proposes a brew of toxic effects, including geological catastrophes like impacts and volcanoes, mixed in with new diseases from biting insects.  George and Roberta Poinar have found evidence of “leishmania, malaria, intestinal parasites, arboviruses and other pathogens” in dinosaur coprolites (fossil dung) and in the guts of amber-entombed insects.  They suggest that waves of epidemics caused dinosaur extinction over a long period of time.
        Rather than a single event, therefore, the Poinars propose that “The confluence of new insect-spread diseases, loss of traditional food sources, and competition for plants by insect pests could all have provided a lingering, debilitating condition that dinosaurs were ultimately unable to overcome.”
        Science Daily posted the hypothesis with a picture of a tick encased in amber.
    One would think that the highly-versatile and adaptable dinosaurs would have enjoyed some nice salad after millions of years of pine cones and ferns.  Maybe they couldn’t get used to the taste of broccoli.  Now that 25 years of animations of horrific space bombardments have to go out the window, it’s open season for you to propose your own theory about dinosaur extinction.  Add to the historic list: diarrhea, cosmic rays, poached eggs, tobacco (Gary Larson), asteroids, and not listening to Mom (see ARN for more ideas).
        All these hypotheses fail to explain why so many contemporary creatures avoided the extinction – including some good-size mammals and birds (the reputed dinosaurs of today).  Remember that dinosaurs came in a wide variety of sizes.  They roamed the entire planet – including Antarctica (12/12/2007).  Whatever killed them off must have been both global and very selective.
        Since we now know that soft tissue, proteins and maybe even blood has been preserved in some dinosaurs, indicating that they lived much more recently than assumed by evolutionists, put the pieces together.  Maybe humans killed off the remaining ones after the Flood.  Professor Noah from the University of Ark claims that this hypothesis is “perfectly compatible with everything we know about dinosaur extinction.”
    Next headline on:  DinosaursTerrestrial ZoologyDating Methods
    2008 Begins With Darwinist Call to Arms   01/02/2008    
    Do the pro-evolutionists show any signs of compromise, contrition or consilience after unceasing pressure from critics for decades?  Not in the slightest.  If anything, their rhetoric is becoming increasingly bellicose.  An example can be found in an article on today’s Live Science.
        A survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted by the pro-evolutionist Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (see their Evolution Resources website), found that 61% of the respondents support the vague statement “All living things evolved over time.”  This filtered down to 11% who support the common ancestry of all things by a natural process such as natural selection, and 36% who think God guided evolution.  Regarding the question of human evolution, the survey measured 53% who believe humans had evolved, 32% via natural selection and 25% with guidance.  The report acknowledged, however, that American’s views on evolution differ according to how the questions are asked.
        Respondents who answered “scientific” questions “correctly” about plate tectonics, antibiotics and dinosaurs (at least according to the survey writers), were included in the counts of those most likely to support the teaching of evolution in schools, they said.  However, according to the FASEB report, two of the questions presupposed a belief in millions of years – thus eliminating young-earth creationists at the outset.  Not only did this skew the survey against some creationists who have scientific reasons for disbelieving the geological time scale, it scored those believing in vast ages of time as scientifically literate.  Notice how the questions thus created a caricature of scientific literacy:
    Although 69% of survey participants had some college education (27% were college graduates, and 14% had attended graduate school), only 23% gave correct responses to all three of the following statements: the continents or land masses on which we live have been moving for millions of years and will continue to move in the future (79% correctly agreed); antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria (43% correctly disagreed); the earliest humans lived at the same time as the dinosaurs (53% correctly disagreed).  Respondents who answered all three questions correctly were much more likely to respond that humans and other living things evolved (78%) rather than that they were created in their present form (11%), and more favored teaching evolution (78%) than creationism (27%) or intelligent design (24%).  In contrast, respondents who answered fewer than two questions correctly were less likely to accept that life evolved (36%) rather than to believe it was created in its present form (47%), and they were about as likely to favor teaching evolution (36%) as creationism (38%) and intelligent design (29%).

    The survey, then seems to merely restate the obvious: creationists favor teaching intelligent design, and evolutionists favor teaching evolution.  Presumably, some of the creationists had college degrees, too, but were labeled scientifically illiterate according to their acceptance of evolutionary presuppositions.
        Whatever these results mean, the scientific societies were quick to capitalize on them.  A coalition of 17 scientific societies issued a statement with no room for non-evolutionary explanations:
    The introduction of ‘non-science,’ such as creationism and intelligent design, into science education will undermine the fundamentals of science education.  Some of these fundamentals include using the scientific method, understanding how to reach scientific consensus, and distinguishing between scientific and nonscientific explanations of natural phenomena.
    The FASEB journal’s editor-in-chief, Dr. Gerald Weissmann, was even more blatant: “In an age when people have benefited so greatly from science and reason, it is ironic that some still reject the tools that have afforded them the privilege to reject them.”  These statements assume, rather than demonstrate, that evolutionary biologists use said tools, and their critics do not.
        The article by “LiveScience Staff” ended by editorializing on the issue of intelligent design (ID).  No proponents of ID were given a platform.  The article stated flatly that intelligent design is not science by appealing to authority and majority, then gave Weissmann an opportunity to earn Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:
    Scientists accept evolution as the best and only theory that accurately explains how humans and other species came to be so diverse.  The theory is supported by many studies in many different fields of science.  Intelligent design is a thinly veiled creationist argument designed to make the public doubt the theory of evolution, according to nearly all scientists and a 2005 ruling by U.S.  District Court Judge John E. Jones III in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
        “The bottom line is that the world is round, humans evolved from an extinct species and Elvis is dead,” Weissmann said.  “This survey is a wake-up call for anyone who supports teaching information based on evidence rather than speculation or hope; people want to hear the truth, and they want to hear it from scientists.
    The coalition that issued the statement includes the National Academy of Sciences, the American Institute of Physics and the National Science Teachers Association.  As with the pronouncements of any large organization, declarations are decisions of the leadership, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all the members.  The Federation’s press release was posted on EurekAlert.
    1.  To be considered part of the “scientifically literate” group, respondents had to answer that humans did not live at the time of the dinosaurs.  This ruled out all young-earth creationists, many of whom have scientific reasons for believing the old-age assumptions of the scientific community are falsified by evidence.  Thus, only those predisposed to believe in long ages were included in the subsequent counts of those who believed evolution should be taught in schools.
    This means war.  We are not declaring war; the Darwin Party did, and there needs to be a response.  The obstreperous, incorrigible Darwinists have had plenty of time to repent of their sins.  Their only reaction has been to dig in their heels, stiffen their necks, harden their hearts, grit their teeth, stop their ears and scream.  They are like bratty kids throwing a tantrum, and need a similar kind of discipline.
        There are so many blatant logical fallacies and lies in the coalition statement, only newbies to CEH might fail to see them.  If you are a seasoned reader, you can skip over the list unless you would like a review.  (Keep in mind that what the evolutionists really mean by evolution is that humans have bacteria ancestors through an unguided natural process.)
    • “non-science, such as creationism and intelligent design” – blatant name-calling.  They should know full well that there are no demarcation criteria for science.  This amounts to no more than labeling one’s opponent a heretic so he can be condemned.
    • “will undermine the fundamentals of science education” – only if the culture’s chosen fundamentals require atheism.  This is the fear-mongering tactic.  Did they notice that most of the greatest founders of science were creationists?
    • “using the scientific method” – There is no one scientific method.  Give a philosopher of science an alleged “scientific method” and he will find examples of pseudoscience that use it and legitimate sciences that do not.  ID and creationist researchers often do just as good a job at deploying whatever “scientific method” the Darwinites want to define as they claim to do themselves.
    • “understanding how to reach scientific consensus” – this is how politics is done, not science.  Science is trying to get the world right, even if that is considered possible, a dubious pursuit philosophically even if worthwhile pragmatically.
    • “distinguishing between scientific and non-scientific explanations of phenomena” – good luck.  Since there are no demarcation criteria, any attempt to distinguish them is going to rule out some sciences they want to include, and let in some sciences they want to exclude.  Drawing categories to include Darwinism and exclude intelligent design is as arbitrary as defining which food is delicious.
    In addition, the “Live Science Staff” accelerated the error catastrophe:
    • “Scientists accept evolution” – a glittering generality that overlooks that science is about demonstrating and proving things, not accepting them.
    • “...accept evolution” – an equivocation because the word evolution can mean almost anything, even something a creationist would accept.
    • “best...theory” – the best-in-field fallacy.
    • “only theory” – a big lie.  If by that they mean the only naturalistic theory, then it begs the question that the assumption of naturalism is required to do good science.
    • “accurately explains” – only if you liken it to the Gribbleflix theory (see 12/19/2007 commentary).
    • “explains” – the subject of scientific explanation is a huge problem in philosophy of science about which great thinkers disagree.  One cannot assume that the evolutionary “explanation” is a good one without begging the question.
    • “how humans and other species came to be so diverse” – if observed diversity is the issue, then variation by descent from original created kinds explains the observations, because abrupt appearance of phyla is the rule.
    • “The theory is supported” – the issue of which kinds of observations can rightly be adduced in support of a theory is another of those knotty problems in philosophy of science.  The Darwinists refute their own credibility by using any and every observation as support for their theory, even contradictory observations.
    • “by many studies” – only by assuming evolution at the outset, as shown many, many times in these pages.  If they want to pick the studies that support their belief, and ignore the many and serious problems in other studies, that would be an example of card stacking.
    • “in many different fields of science” – many different fields of science support intelligent design, too, and prohibit evolution.  Want to compare lists?  The Cambrian explosion, the origin of life, the origin of the universe, etc.
    • “thinly veiled creationist argument” – the bogeyman tactic.  One’s motives should not be an issue in science.  Labeling something “creationist” to discredit it without listening to their arguments is an a priori category error, unworthy of scientific objectivity.
    • “designed to make the public doubt the theory of evolution” – Good, they believe in intelligent design after all.  How did the creationist tactic evolve?  If it evolved, why isn’t it a good thing?  Are the Darwinists saying they believe in absolute truth and morals?  Then they are no longer Darwinists.
    • “according to nearly all scientists” – the bandwagon argument.  Nearly all scientists denied plate tectonics till they accepted it, nearly all scientists denied the Missoula flood till they accepted it, and nearly all scientists ridiculed radio astronomy till they accepted it.  Nearly all scientists accepted phony ideas, too, like phlogiston, caloric, alchemy and other blind alleys in the history of science, till they rejected them.  Maybe some day nearly all scientists will reject Darwin and accept ID.  Prove this is impossible scientifically.  If that happens, will it define what is right?  Science is supposed to be an open-ended search for the truth where the evidence leads.
    • “and... Judge John E. Jones” – It is laughable that the Darwinists appeal to a non-scientist judge to rule on what counts as science or not.  Undoubtedly they would be screaming if Jones had ruled against them.  They would be declaring with holy indignation that no unelected judge has the right to define what science is; only the scientific community is allowed that privilege.
    Taking up Weissmann’s SEQOTW is overkill at this point, but for the sake of completeness,
    • “the world is round, humans evolved from an extinct species and Elvis is dead” – one of the funniest examples of negative association in a long time.  Both sides of an argument can play this game.  We refuse to dignify Weissmann’s childish fallacy with a counter-example.
    • “wake-up call” – fear-mongering again.
    • “teaching information based on evidence rather than speculation or hope” – Great idea!  When do you start?
    • “people want to hear the truth” – that’s right.  Please repent and commence.  Apparently the Darwinists now believe in truth.  This implies intangible absolutes.  From now on, no Darwinian stories will be accepted that assume materialism and relativism.
    • “and they want to hear it from scientists” – Is it OK if we hear the truth from Bacon, Kepler, Maxwell, Faraday, Carver, von Braun, and other notable creation scientists?  Picking only Darwin-loyal scientists would be card stacking.
    It goes without saying that surveys and statistical inferences are fraught with problems and prone to misinterpretation.  This exercise was elementary.  If you have not yet mastered the art of Baloney Detecting, the new year is a good time to resolve to start an intellectual fitness program.
        The coalition manifesto is what happens when the bratty kids achieve power.  The good scientists are not the problem.  Most scientists are simply carrying on the noble tradition of applying the best observational and mathematical rigor to problems in our understanding of nature as best they can within human limitations.  It requires character: responsibility, integrity, honesty, fairness, and humility.  Character does not evolve.  Character development takes hard work, purpose and intelligent design.  That alone refutes the Darwin Party’s own premises.
        There have always been adults who never outgrew the habit of holding their ears and screaming, stomping their feet, refusing to do their homework or eat their vegetables, and wasting countless hours in trivial pursuits like video games.  If you would evict your grown children for such behavior, and tell them “either get a job or you don’t eat,” then a similar housecleaning needs to happen at the leadership of scientific institutions, where adults who should know better are hooked on the XBox of contrived battles with imaginary bogeymen, and glutted with the junk food of simplistic rhetoric.  Science can only thrive with the nourishment of a balanced philosophical foundation and the wisdom to apply character to issues of substance in the real world.
    Next headline on:  EvolutionIntelligent DesignEducationDumb Ideas
      Biology of the future: molecular machines (01/09/2002) and an example: exquisite mechanisms in potassium channels (01/17/2002).


    Scientist of the Month

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    “I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work.  I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda).  I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary....  I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.”
    (a technical writer living in Jerusalem)

    “I have enjoyed your site for several years now.  Thanks for all the hard work you obviously put into this.  I appreciate your insights, especially the biological oriented ones in which I'm far behind the nomenclature curve.  It would be impossible for me to understand what's going on without some interpretation.  Thanks again.”
    (a manufacturing engineer in Vermont)

    “Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor regarding the evolution debate.  Yours is one site I look forward to on a daily basis.  Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.”
    (a graphic designer in Wisconsin)

    “For sound, thoughtful commentary on creation-evolution hot topics go to Creation-Evolution Headlines.
    (Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

    ”Your website is simply the best (and I’d dare say one of the most important) web sites on the entire WWW.”
    (an IT specialist at an Alabama university)

    “I’ve been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and I’m guilty of not showing any appreciation.  You provide a great service.  It’s one of the most informative and up-to-date resources on creation available anywhere.  Thank you so much.  Please keep up the great work.”
    (a senior research scientist in Georgia)

    “Just a note to thank you for your site.  I am a regular visitor and I use your site to rebut evolutionary "just so" stories often seen in our local media.  I know what you do is a lot of work but you make a difference and are appreciated.”
    (a veterinarian in Minnesota)

    “This is one of the best sites I have ever visited.  Thanks.  I have passed it on to several others... I am a retired grandmother. I have been studying the creation/evolution question for about 50 yrs.... Thanks for the info and enjoyable site.”
    (a retiree in Florida)

    “It is refreshing to know that there are valuable resources such as Creation-Evolution Headlines that can keep us updated on the latest scientific news that affect our view of the world, and more importantly to help us decipher through the rhetoric so carelessly disseminated by evolutionary scientists.  I find it ‘Intellectually Satisfying’ to know that I don’t have to park my brain at the door to be a ‘believer’ or at the very least, to not believe in Macroevolution.”
    (a loan specialist in California)

    “I have greatly benefitted from your efforts.  I very much look forward to your latest posts.”
    (an attorney in California)

    “I must say your website provides an invaluable arsenal in this war for souls that is being fought.  Your commentaries move me to laughter or sadness.  I have been viewing your information for about 6 months and find it one of the best on the web.  It is certainly effective against the nonsense published on Talkorigins.org.  It great to see work that glorifies God and His creation.”
    (a commercial manager in Australia)

    “Visiting daily your site and really do love it.”
    (a retiree from Finland who studied math and computer science)

    “I am agnostic but I can never deny that organic life (except human) is doing a wonderful job at functioning at optimum capacity.  Thank you for this ... site!”
    (an evolutionary theorist from Australia)

    “During the year I have looked at your site, I have gone through your archives and found them to be very helpful and informative.  I am so impressed that I forward link to members of my congregation who I believe are interested in a higher level discussion of creationist issues than they will find at [a leading origins website].”
    (a minister in Virginia)

    “I attended a public school in KS where evolution was taught.  I have rejected evolution but have not always known the answers to some of the questions.... A friend told me about your site and I like it, I have it on my favorites, and I check it every day.”
    (an auto technician in Missouri)

    “Thanks for a great site!  It has brilliant insights into the world of science and of the evolutionary dogma.  One of the best sites I know of on the internet!”
    (a programmer in Iceland)

    “The site you run – creation-evolution headlines is extremely useful to me.  I get so tired of what passes for science – Darwinism in particular – and I find your site a refreshing antidote to the usual junk.... it is clear that your thinking and logic and willingness to look at the evidence for what the evidence says is much greater than what I read in what are now called science journals.  Please keep up the good work.  I appreciate what you are doing more than I can communicate in this e-mail.”
    (a teacher in California)

    “Although we are often in disagreement, I have the greatest respect and admiration for your writing.”
    (an octogenarian agnostic in Palm Springs)

    “your website is absolutely superb and unique.  No other site out there provides an informed & insightful ‘running critique’ of the current goings-on in the scientific establishment.  Thanks for keeping us informed.”
    (a mechanical designer in Indiana)

    “I have been a fan of your site for some time now.  I enjoy reading the ‘No Spin’ of what is being discussed.... keep up the good work, the world needs to be shown just how little the ‘scientist’ [sic] do know in regards to origins.”
    (a network engineer in South Carolina)

    “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, it’s apparent you’ve 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 website!”
    (an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

    “What an absolutely brilliant website you have.  It’s 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)

    “I’ve 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 don’t 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 Bloglines.”
    (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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I know of no better way to stay informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.  Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!”
    (a grad student in particle physics)

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

    “The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable.  The objectivity of the editors is admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists.  The amount of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I can’t wait to see the next new article each time I log on).  Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary goal of the people who run this website.  Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent dedication to the TRUTH.”
    (11 months earlier): “I just completed reading each entry from each month.  I found your site about 6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in showing the ‘unscientific’ nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.”
    (a medical doctor in Oklahoma)

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational resource.“
    (director of a consulting company in Australia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “...standing O for crev.info.”
    (a database programmer in California)

    “Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website!  Although I regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, I’ve found that many of them do not stay current with relative information.  I love the almost daily updates to your ‘headlines’ section.  I’ve since made it my browser home page, and have recommended it to several of my friends.  Absolutely great site!”
    (a network engineer in Florida)

    “After I heard about Creation-Evolution Headlines, it soon became my favorite Evolution resource site on the web.  I visit several times a day cause I can’t wait for the next update.  That’s pathetic, I know ... but not nearly as pathetic as Evolution, something you make completely obvious with your snappy, intelligent commentary on scientific current events.  It should be a textbook for science classrooms around the country.  You rock!”
    (an editor in Tennessee)

    “One of the highlights of my day is checking your latest CreationSafaris creation-evolution news listing!  Thanks so much for your great work -- and your wonderful humor.”
    (a pastor in Virginia)

    “Thanks!!!  Your material is absolutely awesome.  I’ll be using it in our Adult Sunday School class.”
    (a pastor in Wisconsin)

    “Love your site & read it daily.”
    (a family physician in Texas)

    “I set it [crev.info] up as my homepage.  That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events.... I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.”
    (a systems analyst in Tennessee)

    “I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.”
    (a Swiss astrophysicist)

    “I enjoy very much reading your materials.”
    (a law professor in Portugal)

    “Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.  It has been a valuable resource for me.”
    (a medical student in Kansas)

    “Creation-Evolution Headlines is a terrific resource.  The articles are always current and the commentary is right on the mark.”
    (a molecular biologist in Illinois)

    Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite ‘anti-evolution’ website.  With almost giddy anticipation, I check it several times a week for the latest postings.  May God bless you and empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!”
    (a financial analyst in New York)

    “I read your pages on a daily basis and I would like to let you know that your hard work has been a great help in increasing my knowledge and growing in my faith.  Besides the huge variety of scientific disciplines covered, I also enormously enjoy your great sense of humor and your creativity in wording your thoughts, which make reading your website even more enjoyable.”
    (a software developer in Illinois)

    “THANK YOU for all the work you do to make this wonderful resource!  After being regular readers for a long time, this year we’ve incorporated your site into our home education for our four teenagers.  The Baloney Detector is part of their Logic and Reasoning Skills course, and the Daily Headlines and Scientists of the Month features are a big part of our curriculum for an elective called ‘Science Discovery Past and Present’.  What a wonderful goldmine for equipping future leaders and researchers with the tools of clear thinking!
    (a home school teacher in California)

    “What can I say – I LOVE YOU! – I READ YOU ALMOST EVERY DAY I copy and send out to various folks.  I love your sense of humor, including your politics and of course your faith.  I appreciate and use your knowledge – What can I say – THANK YOU – THANK YOU – THANK YOU – SO MUCH.”
    (a biology major, former evolutionist, now father of college students)

    “I came across your site while browsing through creation & science links.  I love the work you do!”
    (an attorney in Florida)

    “Love your commentary and up to date reporting.  Best site for evolution/design info.”
    (a graphic designer in Oregon)

    “I am an ardent reader of your site.  I applaud your efforts and pass on your website to all I talk to.  I have recently given your web site info to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...”
    (a health services manager in Florida)

    “Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about.  A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information that’s been going on. Now, I’m simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
        Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search.  Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day.  Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there.  The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement.  Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that they’ve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
        Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references.  That helps me get a better picture of what you’re talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.”
    (an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)

    “I’m a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming.  We’re pretty isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine.  I read it daily, and if there’s nothing new, I re-read everything.  I follow links.  I read the Scientist of the Month.  It’s the best site I’ve run across.  Our local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.”
    (a newspaper editor in Wyoming)

    “ have been reading your page for about 2 years or so.... I read it every day.  I ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.”
    (a reader in Delaware)

    “ I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day.... About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written by a staunch ‘anti-Creationist’ and it sparked my interest enough to research the topic and within a week I was yelling, ‘my whole life’s education has been a lie!!!’  I’ve put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.  Past that, through resources like your website...I’ve been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the ‘grassroots level’ drum up interest in the subject.  And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.”
    (an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)

    “I love your site!  I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, I’ve found it.  2. You have balanced fun with this topic.  This is hugely valuable!  Smug Christianity is ugly, and I don’t perceive that attitude in your comments.  3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover.  4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it.  I really appreciate this.
    (a computer technology salesman in Virginia)

    “I love your site.  That’s why I was more than happy to mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place where..... ‘Every Darwin-cheering news article is reviewed on that site from an ID perspective.  Then the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed, and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real science.’”
    (a project manager in New Jersey)

    “I’ve been reading your site almost daily for about three years.  I have never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.”
    (a system administrator and homeschooling father in Colorado)

    “I use the internet a lot to catch up on news back home and also to read up on the creation-evolution controversy, one of my favourite topics.  Your site is always my first port of call for the latest news and views and I really appreciate the work you put into keeping it up to date and all the helpful links you provide.  You are a beacon of light for anyone who wants to hear frank, honest conclusions instead of the usual diluted garbage we are spoon-fed by the media.... Keep up the good work and know that you’re changing lives.
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    (from the Isle of Wight, UK)

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      I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University.  When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, I’m absolutely amazed....  Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily.  Keep up the good work.
    (an engineer in Virginia)

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    (Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)

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    (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.)

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    “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.”
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    (endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center)

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    Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, “apostate Christian” Natural/Scientific pantheist)

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    (from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    The information is properly documented, and coming from recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable.  Your explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the reader’s interest.”
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    (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!”
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    (a reader, location and occupation unknown)

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

    “Thanks for your web page and work.  I try to drop by at least once a week and read what you have.  I’m a Christian that is interested in science (I’m a mechanical engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.  I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.”
    (a year later):
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    (a production designer in Kentucky)

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    (a reader from Southern California)

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

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

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

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

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    (a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

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    (a reader in the Air Force).

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    (a scientist).

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    (a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on TruthCast.com.)

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    (a mountain man in Alaska).

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    (a college campus minister)

     
    Featured Creation Scientist for January


    John Stevens Henslow
    1796 - 1861

    This month’s biography is a case study in dramatic irony.  John Stevens Henslow is the scientist who made Darwin famous.  The eminent Cambridge professor of botany was like a father to Darwin.  It was Henslow who gave him the opportunity to go on the Beagle as naturalist, defended his right to explore new ideas, and presided at the famous 1860 debate between Wilberforce and Huxley – yet he rejected Darwin’s theory of evolution.  Henslow was a Christian and creationist.

    Don DeYoung writes this about Henslow in Pioneer Explorers of Intelligent Design (BMH books, 2006):

    John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861) was professor of botany and geology at the University of Cambridge in England.  His enthusiasm for teaching botany made it one of the most popular subjects at Cambridge for several decades.  Henslow was a devout Christian and Anglican clergyman.  One of his favorite students was Charles Darwin.  On campus, Darwin was known as “the man who walked with Henslow.”  Darwin learned much about nature from his mentor but he rejected Henslow’s faith.  When Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1857 [sic; 1859], Henslow graciously expressed his opposition to the book with the words, “Darwin attempts more than is granted to man, just as people used to account for the origin of evil – a question past finding out.”

    Darwin deeply admired Henslow throughout his life.  It was in Professor Henslow’s botany class at Cambridge that Charles, prior to this time an aimless and unmotivated student, really got interested in natural science.  Henslow gave Darwin all the observing skills that Darwin would use for years analyzing barnacles, pigeons and plants.  At this time, Charles was a creationist too, as were most scientists of the day.  It wasn’t till the the Beagle voyage and the years that followed that Darwin’s doubts and unbelief began to take root.  Henslow cannot be blamed for that.  The only criticisms that might be levied against this great man is that he was too gracious a gentleman, and too permissive of radical speculations.

    Janet Browne adds some insights into Henslow’s character in her book Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002).  Apparently Darwin was sheepish about approaching his mentor with his new book, On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection.  When sending the now-elderly professor a pre-publication copy in 1859, he prefaced it with a letter stating that, “I fear you will not approve of your pupil in this case” (p. 84).

    One facet of Henslow’s philosophy is found in a comment he made to his brother-in-law about Darwin’s views.  Stating that Darwin had a right to his opinion, he objected, “God does not set the creation going like a clock, wound up to go by itself” (p. 153).  This statement indicates that Henslow was no deist or theistic evolutionist.  He denied that God had a hands-off policy, letting a mechanical universe run without his active participation.  Clearly that is what he saw Darwin proposing.

    Henslow believed in freedom of speech and intellectual inquiry.  In an 1860 meeting at the Cambridge Philosophical Society, where fellow professor Adam Sedgwick was getting more and more riled about Darwin’s book, Henslow “vigorously defended Darwin’s right to investigate the question of living origins, although he, like the others, balked at jettisoning divine creation,” Browne says (p. 117).  “In this, Henslow showed the mettle that his friends still admired.  Elderly he might be, but he retained his inner fire.  Yet his affection for Darwin evidently pushed him further than his heart would otherwise have taken him.”

    That gentlemanly tolerance even extended to his classroom.  In Henslow’s last botany class at Cambridge in spring of 1860, he even introduced Darwin’s principles to the students, not so much to endorse them, but to help the students learn how to be exposed to differing views.  “While telling them of his own unshakeable religious faith,” Browne writes (p. 118), “he nevertheless encouraged them to respect intellectual endeavor wherever it might lead.”

    At the historic British Association contest between Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley at Oxford in June, 1860, Henslow presided as chairman.  He was the one who gave Huxley, then Wilberforce, an opportunity to speak.  When the audience reaction rose to a fever pitch at the debate, Henslow was among those trying to restore order, and defending the rights of each man’s opinions, including Huxley’s, to be heard.  Browne says that at the end of the meeting, when everyone’s blood was boiling, Henslow also made some “spirited remarks” and then dismissed the assembly with “an impartial benediction” (pp. 122-124).

    Henslow would not live to see much of the aftermath, when Darwin’s supporters took this meeting as a cause celebre to launch their new naturalistic worldview.  He died the following May.  Darwin fell ill and used it as an excuse not to attend the deathbed or funeral.  Ever after, Darwin felt guilty about not having been there for his dear friend and mentor.  Browne writes, “Henslow had made him what he was, not only by giving him the chance of a lifetime with the invitation for the Beagle voyage, but also by his kindly attentions and support thereafter” (p. 153).  Henslow had been like a father to him, and his passing closed an important chapter in Darwin’s life.

    We can only speculate on what Henslow would have thought of the subsequent decade, when Darwinism rose from a fringe speculation roundly denounced by most leading scientists to the vanguard of a new naturalistic world view.  As the years progressed, largely due to the tactics of what Janet Browne calls Darwin’s “Four Musketeers” (Lyell, Hooker, Huxley and Asa Gray), as well as Darwin’s own scheming, the creationists were on the run.  The Darwinians captured the scientific journals, the media, and the British Association.  Few became willing to stand up against the growing naturalistic tide.  It became harder to criticize the new Darwinian view, because it seemed to stand for Victorian progress and intellectual freedom.  (As revealed in these pages, that was a highly contrived and manipulated opinion, not a result of scientific facts.)

    Looking back at this story after 148 years of Darwin’s rise to power, the ironies are palpable:

  • Henslow gave his aimless and undisciplined pupil the chance of a lifetime to tour the world, traveling with a devout Christian captain, Robert FitzRoy.  Darwin used the experience to shred the foundations of Henslow’s and FitzRoy’s world view.
  • Henslow graciously received Darwin’s book and, though disagreeing with it, was reserved and respectful in his criticisms.  Now, Darwin’s followers unleash the most outrageous and vehement rhetoric at anyone who dares question Darwinian ideas.
  • Henslow was willing to let his students think about Mr. Darwin’s principles, even when he disagreed with them.  Now, one cannot even criticize Darwin’s ideas in the classroom – let alone present the beliefs of Henslow, a devout Christian and creationist.  The pro-Darwinist organizations and all the scientific societies will race to confront any teacher with an expensive lawsuit if he or she tries to return Henslow’s favor by exposing students in today’s Darwin-only science classrooms to alternative views, like intelligent design, no matter how non-sectarian and empirical they are.
  • Henslow was confident enough in his “unshakeable religious faith” to allow students to “follow intellectual endeavor wherever it might lead.”  Now, students and scientists are taught that they cannot make a design inference even when the evidence for it is compelling.  All scientific evidence must be force-fitted into the Darwinian picture. 
  • Henslow tried to maintain order and civility in public debate, and insisted both sides have their fair say.  Today, the Darwinists do not want to give any public platform to alternatives, and fight to put prior restraint on debate.
  • Henslow was loyal to his friends despite their beliefs.  Today, professors and scientific societies will turn on any colleague who breaks ranks with Darwinian views, and will vote to deny tenure, deny degrees, or otherwise ostracize and marginalize the heretic.  (The upcoming film Expelled will provide many examples.)
  • Henslow understood the limits of science.  He knew what questions were past finding out by scientific methods.  Today, scientists shamelessly attempt to explain everything in the entire universe, even in imaginary parallel universes, in Darwinian terms!  Darwinism has taken over the entire university, including economics, psychology, political science, the humanities, and even religious studies.
  • Henslow was a consummate gentleman.  Darwin’s followers, particularly the Social Darwinists, have committed atrocities against their fellow human beings beyond all historical precedent in terms of viciousness and magnitude, justifying their actions on the basis of Darwin’s alleged “law of survival of the fittest.”  Today’s Darwinists continue to erode the sanctity of human life by supporting abortion on demand, cloning, and human-animal chimeras experiments; some support euthanasia and infanticide.

    In hindsight, we might wish Henslow had been more stringent with his pupil.  We might wish he had used his reputation to denounce the rambling speculations of a younger upstart who ventured into realms beyond human ken.  We might wish he, and the other scientific critics of Darwinism, including Adam Sedgwick, Richard Owen, John Phillips and others, would have stood their ground with more fortitude to resist the foundational change that was being introduced to recast the definition and purvue of science.  But this was mid-19th-century Victorian culture.  People were expected to be civil.  Progress was in the air.  Satisfaction with organized religion was diminishing as the prestige of science was growing.  Darwin’s ideas seemed fresh and controversial, appealing to the rebel and selfishness in mankind.  Some worried, but nobody knew, how things would eventually turn out.

    Henslow must be turning in his grave.


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

  • A Concise Guide
    to Understanding
    Evolutionary Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Souder’s Law
    Repetition does not establish validity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Advice from Paul

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

    I Timothy 6:20-21

    Song of the True Scientist

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

    from Psalm 104

    Maxwell’s Motivation

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

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

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

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